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In Alex Smith, Redskins Get A Proven Winner And Leader


Professional. Leader. Winner.

In his short time with the Washington Redskins, those three descriptors have been used frequently in describing quarterback Alex Smith.

"He's a winner," said six-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams. "Obviously going No.1 in the draft, he's been at the pinnacle of this sport for a long time. We're lucky to transition from one franchise quarterback and being able to not have any layoff to get another one.

"You don't win in this league without a quarterback, so us being able to have one right now does everything for our team in the faith we have to win."

When the 2017 season ended, the Redskins knew that they needed to make a long-term decision about the quarterback position. For two straight seasons, Kirk Cousins – a fourth-round pick for Washington in the 2012 NFL Draft – played under the franchise tag while still being the starting quarterback.

Washington didn't want to go down that path again, and after weighing all options it was clear who the organization wanted moving forward.

On March 14th at 4:00 p.m. with the start of the new NFL year, the Redskins officially acquired Smith in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs that included the package of a third-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft and cornerback Kendall Fuller.

Shortly after, the Redskins and Smith agreed on a contract extension, keeping the three-time Pro Bowler in Washington for the foreseeable future.

"He chose us and he chose us for a reason," said Redskins Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams. "It's because who we are, the legacy of the Washington Redskins, the history of the Washington Redskins."

Check out the whole Redskins offseason roster in photos as of June 14, 2018.

Smith comes to Washington after spending the first 13 seasons of his NFL career between Kansas City and the San Francisco 49ers, the team that selected him with the No. 1-overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.

In his 13 seasons to date, Smith has passed for nearly 32,000 yards while throwing for 183 touchdowns to 96 interceptions with a career quarterback rating of 87.4.

Last season, Smith turned in the best single-season performance of his career, passing for career highs in both yardage (4,042) and touchdowns (26) while leading the NFL in quarterback rating (104.7).

Despite that output, though, Smith isn't satisfied.

"I think you want to try to continue to get better," Smith said. "I think you try to digest all that, learn from it, take what you can and move forward. I think the thing I looked at, the common denominator amongst all I think successful veterans when I was a young player, especially quarterbacks, was that – they were tough. I mean, everybody's going to take their licks in this game.

"It's not easy and I think the guys that were mentally tough, that kept getting back up, that kept going at it, finding a way, getting better, never stopped improving, you know, in all aspects. For me, those guys were great examples for me and I think I've strived to do that, I think I still strive to do that. It never ends. You kind of continue the chase."

Smith's addition to the roster has also brought a veteran voice to the locker room and the huddle. While he was new to Washington this offseason, the 34-year-old fit right in with the Redskins.

"The things we were really excited about when we got him, the intangibles, the leadership, his work ethic just bringing young guys along, veteran guys responding to him, it's really impressive to see what he's able to do in a really short amount of time with the offseason rules and what they are now," said Redskins passing game coordinator Kevin O'Connell.

O'Connell isn't alone in being impressed with Smith's seamless transition. Second-year center Chase Roullier, who joked that no one will be quite as close to Smith on the field as he is, jelled with the quarterback immediately.

"We need to be able to get off the ball fast, we need to know exactly how he's going to say it each and every time, and so that's a little bit of a learning process and it took us a couple days to get that down," Roullier said. "In practice, there's some growing pains with that initially, but it's just something that a few reps, it doesn't really take much, you get to know your quarterback's cadence pretty easily and we've already gotten to know Alex's."

When it comes to the weapons around him, Smith will have multiple talented wide receivers at his disposal.

2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, of course, is among them as he looks to build off a solid second season. After losing the majority of his rookie season to an Achilles injury, Doctson played in all 16 of Washington's regular season games last year to register 35 receptions for 502 yards and six touchdowns.

"I'm not a quarterback guru, but he's a vet in his 30s. I watched the Chiefs last year. We played them, so I saw how dominant they were," Doctson said. "He was the leader of that team, so I'm looking for him to come in and be dominant like that."

Smith will also have a deep threat in the form of fifth-year veteran Paul Richardson Jr. After spending most of his first three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks in a reserve role, the University of Colorado product experience a breakout campaign in 2017, tallying 703 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 44 receptions.

He was only of only eight wide receivers to catch at least 40 passes and average 16 yards per reception.

That success deep down the field should mesh well with Smith's accuracy in that category. While Smith previously was labeled a "game manager" at the quarterback position, he shed that misnomer last season.

According to Pro Football Focus, Smith had an NFL-best 131.4 passer rating on passes targeted 20 yards or more from the line of scrimmage while also leading the league in deep pass yards (1,344) and adjusted completion percentage (56.5).

"What stands out the most is he's very decisive," Richardson said. "He's not second guessing himself. He's reading the coverage, man or zone. He's trusting us to make it out of our break to meet the ball. He's putting the ball in great spots with great timing and for it to be this early; we can only go up from here."

Those sort of traits coupled with distinctive football IQ make Smith a special player that will hopefully lead Washington back to the playoffs right away.

"He is the smartest guy I have ever been around, without a doubt," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "He can move around and he can handle a lot of different things. We are not in here to build the team around him, the team is built and he has to lead it like right now. This isn't a two- or three-year process. This is a one-year process and we have got to win right away."