The 2020 season is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its inaugural campaign under head coach Ron Rivera. Stay up to date with "WFT Daily," which comes out every weekday evening.
When quarterback Alex Smith took the field Sunday, it marked his 162nd career NFL start. His wide receivers, on the other hand, they have combined to start just 34 games.
That inexperience was insignificant against the Detroit Lions, though, as the group combined for 22 receptions and 254 yards. According to them, a lot of that success can be attributed to the 36-year-old throwing them the football.
"He's helped in a tremendous way," undrafted rookie Isaiah Wright said of Smith. "Being a young guy, sometimes things move fast, and when I can't slow the game down by myself, I know I can count on Alex to help me slow the game down and help me stay focused."
Wright described Smith as "just a football guy" who not only provides tips on getting open but relays what he sees and how the offense can exploit those looks. Smith has been in the NFL since 2005, so he has experienced almost everything as a professional. His young pass-catchers are starting to reap the benefits.
Before Smith replaced an injured Kyle Allen against the New York Giants on Nov. 8, wide receiver Cam Sims compiled 81-career yards in two-and-a-half seasons. Sims has since hauled in seven passes for 164 yards in two games as the team's No. 2 receiver behind Terry McLaurin.
Sims said he is motivated by Smith's vigorous work ethic. Even as a 16th-year veteran who many expected would never play again, Smith arrives at the team facility early and leaves late. He's also friendly and always willing to give advice, which these receivers have taken full advantage of.
"One day I hope I can be one of those guys like him," Sims said.
When asked about his career performance, Smith pointed to team's skill players and offensive line. On 55 pass attempts, Smith was only sacked twice. That allowed him to spread the ball around to McLaurin (seven catches, 95 yards), Wright (six catches, 59 yards), Sims (four catches, 54 yards) and Steven Sims Jr. (five catches, 46 yards) -- all of whom are 25 years old or younger.
The inverse is also true, as Smith is putting this offense in positions to succeed. As a result, the coaching staff can better evaluate this unit heading into the rest of the season and beyond.
"When you get that kind of play from the quarterback, it shows the development of the other guys around him," said head coach Ron Rivera. "Look at what we've seen from Cam Sims, look at what we're seeing from Isaiah Wright, Antonio Gibson. When good things are happening like that, you're developing players. That's the other thing that we have to work on as we go forward is making sure our guys are developing and giving us a chance to compete out there."
-- Washington player tests positive for COVID-19: For the first time since late July, a Washington player has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Tuesday morning. As a result of the positive test, Washington has entered NFL's intensive protocols, which means all meetings this week will be conducted virtually and that the Inova Sports Performance Center will only be open to staff with limited access granted to the players. Washington hosts the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
"We will continue to work closely with the NFL's Chief Medical Officer and follow the league's guidance," the team stated in a press release. "The health and safety of our players, coaches and staff is our number one priority."
-- Montez Sweat ranked as top edge rusher for Week 10: Defensive end Montez Sweat only made one tackle in Sunday's loss to the Detroit Lions, but according to Pro Football Focus, he played quiet well in 38 snaps. PFF gave Sweat an overall grade of 90.0, the highest among pass-rushers in Week 10.
For the season, Sweat leads Washington with 5.0 sacks and 12 quarterback hits.
"He's able to work now in individual drills and constantly focusing on setting the edge for us, being disruptive in the run game and then rushing the quarterback," defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said of Sweat before the Lions' game. "He's getting more reps at it. He's doing a great job for us. I think having more time devoted to that and spending less time dropping in coverage."
-- Cole Holcomb becoming every-down linebacker: Ever since Cole Holcomb returned from injury in Week 6, his and Kevin Pierre Louis' playing time have gone in opposite directions. By far the biggest discrepancy came against the Lions, when Holcomb played every defensive snap and Pierre-Louis played just 14. Over the past four games, Holcomb has recorded 24 total tackles (17 solo), a sack, a pass breakup and an interception.
"I thought Cole was excellent," Rivera said after the Week 7 Cowboys' game. "He was all over the field making plays. He made plays on special teams as well. A guy like that we missed. It's good to have him back on the field, being productive and making things happen."
Check Out What's On WashingtonFootball.com: