Alex Smith didn't hide the disappointment regarding his own performance Friday night.
"Not where it needed to be."
Understandably, most of the headlines surrounded the debut of Adrian Peterson with the Redskins. The 33-year-old tailback looked like the runner that will make him one of the greatest to play the position. Eleven carries for 56 yards inspires confidence for the Redskins' running game.
The passing game was not as successful. Smith completed three of his eight passes for 33 yards. He was sacked once as well. There were multiple caveats to Smith's performance, of course – no Jamison Crowder, Maurice Harris, Jordan Reed or Chris Thompson.
"You expect to go out and execute," Smith said. "I get that we're not full-strength, we're not showing everything, but at the same time, you want to go out there and play your best. So, we'll learn from it and get better."
Should Smith have played more? Do Smith and his skill players need more live action together? How many snaps are enough snaps for a first-team offense to be ready for Week 1?
Time and time again, head coach Jay Gruden has answered these questions with a common refrain.
"My whole intent is to get our starting group to Arizona healthy and looks like that's what we're on pace to do right now," Gruden said Friday.
The third preseason game is traditionally the one where starters see the most playing time, and for Smith that was the case in 2017 as well. Playing for the Chiefs against Seattle, Smith finished 7-of-17 for 44 yards. His passer rating was 48.9.
"Chiefs offense has rough night with both Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes," a headline read from Pro Football Talk.
"Quarterback Alex Smith…generally lacked cohesion with his receivers," said the Kansas City Star.
It was the final time Smith played before the regular season began. He then passed for nearly 2,000 yards while completing 72.4 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and no picks. The Chiefs were 5-2 in those games.
How about former Redskins offensive coordinator, Sean McVay? He's taken his former boss' cautious approach to the preseason to a different level. Quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley both will not play a single snap this preseason. Many expect the Rams to win the NFC West.
"Want to get to that first game in Oakland healthy and ready to go," McVay said. "And we're giving ourselves a chance to do that."
Sounds a lot like Gruden, doesn't it?
Smith, who likely has had enough of fielding different variations of the same question, has often referenced the work he and the team have put in outside of preseason games.
"I feel like we've gotten great work all offseason, all camp," Smith said Friday. "As good as it would feel to sit up here and play amazing and win a game, the goal is to find out about our 53 guys that are going to make the team and obviously be ready to roll come September 9th. That's the goal and I think keeping that in mind, I do feel like we're headed down that path. The proof will be in the pudding for us."
Indeed, if the Redskins hang 30 on the Cardinals in Week 1, this conversation will be quickly forgotten. Thirty points would also likely lead to a victory – the first for the Redskins in a season opener under Jay Gruden. It's the beginning of a new era with Smith at the helm, and the Redskins sure would like to have it start on the right foot.
"We've got to be ready to roll come September 9th," Smith said. "For me, I feel like that's been the focus since we've started way back in April. That's all we've been talking about since the schedule came out."