Everything about Alex Smith’s NFL career makes it clear he’s risk averse. He can’t play that way on Sunday if the Redskins are going to upset the Packers.
Alex Smith has earned a great living in the NFL by completing safe passes and protecting the football. That doesn’t mean it’s the perfect strategy for every game he plays in. If he doesn’t take a lot of risks against the Packers on Sunday, his Redskins are doomed to lose.
The good news for Washington fans is that their quarterback is self-aware. He recently admitted that he may have gotten rid of the ball too quickly against the Colts last week. Smith insists that staying patient was part of the team’s game plan coming into the game but it clearly didn’t work. Scoring nine points against Indianapolis was a poor outcome for this offense.
Expect the Redskins to need to score three times as many points this week. Jay Gruden has some talent on defense, but the Packers offense is flat-out explosive. Even on one leg, Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The Redskins can’t come into this game with any misconception that they might be able to hold the score down.
That’s going to put a lot of pressure on Smith to make this offense more dynamic. The problem is this group really wasn’t built to function in that manner. Ideally, Washington wants to win games by controlling the ball. They’d be wise not to turn the football over in this game, but they simply aren’t clinical enough to put together long drives against the Packers defense.
That doesn’t mean it’s a hopeless situation. The Packers secondary is talented, but they’re still very young. They don’t come into this game with the No. 26 defense against the pass by accident. There will be opportunities for Smith to make big plays.
The question is whether or not Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson are the right wide receivers to make those explosive plays. Each member of the trio has talent, but they will need a lot of help from Smith to turn a moderate gain into a big play. In other words, Smith is going to need to play a perfect game on Sunday to lead the Redskins to victory.
The odds are stacked against Smith making that happen. He’s a caretaker quarterback in the most complimentary sense of the word. That’s not going to be good enough in this game. Expect the Packers to rack up too many points for the Redskins offense to match.