Alex Smith faced the most pointed round of questions regarding his play since joining the Washington Redskins on Wednesday, 48 hours after his worst game in burgundy and gold. The 14th-year veteran quarterback handled the session with his usual calm, and though there were hints of annoyance at times, he was not the only member of the team less than thrilled to detail the many issues exhibited in the ugly 43-19 loss to the Saints.
“Looking at it, [you say] what could I do better?” Smith said. “For all of us, I know myself, there was a lot I could do better. Lack of getting a rhythm, [the] situation, it being one-sided, obviously it turns into a pass-heavy deal. We’re down, you start pressing. All those things come into account in a situation like that.”
Smith completed just 59 percent of his passes for 275 yards with an interception and a season-low 69.9 quarterback rating. He only had one game with a lower passing rating in all of 2017.
Smith missed open receivers, made bad decisions and never seemed completely comfortable Monday night. There were miscommunications with receivers, and he acknowledged not seeing the field particularly well. When he threw an interception on fourth and two in the third quarter, it was among the worst passes Smith has attempted as a Redskin.
There were questions before the regular season about how in sync Smith would be with his pass catchers after not playing much with them during preseason games. Those questions remain as tight end Jordan Reed, who was targeted just twice Monday, and wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson have yet to break out.
“We’ve got to get ready to play,” Smith said. “Yeah, are there reps where maybe more time would have helped? Maybe. But at this point that doesn’t do us any good. . . .
"I do feel comfortable in what we are doing, I feel great about the guys that are doing it, our relationship and the reps we have together. I think there is always going to be those things, and it’s a process that never ends. I think whether you’ve played with a guy for five years in the same system, those things always happen. I think you are fine-tuning those things.”
Coach Jay Gruden and Smith both said they’ve talked about the play-calling in an attempt to find what fits best, but Smith added he has to play better, regardless.
There was some surprise with the way the offense operated. Smith thought the team had a good plan and expected to execute it. That didn’t happen, and the Redskins now are faced with recovering from a demoralizing loss.
“They hurt,” Smith said of the lopsided loss. “Not fun at all. I don’t think they’re fun probably for anybody that’s affiliated with the Redskins from a fan to anybody in this building. . . .
"The only way I think to remedy it is to go get a win.”
Gruden added: “We went through all the plays on offense, talked about my thought process and just reiterated why the plays were in, what he was thinking and what he likes moving forward. Maybe it’s the tempo of me calling plays, whatever it might be. We had a good discussion. We’ll try to do a better job next week for him, and he’ll obviously try to do a better job, also.”
Washington must now move on to prepare for the Carolina Panthers on a short week. There’s not time to dwell on the loss after returning from New Orleans around 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Smith, however, said the performance can’t be dismissed quickly.
“You want to be real with yourself,” Smith said. “I think every guy in there has got to look at themselves in the mirror and be real with themselves. Things they have to get better at, need to get better at to help this team, and we all have them.
"It’s one game. We’re four games into the season. We have a lot of football left ahead of us. We’re playing a really good football team right now, so we have new opportunity, new challenge, new week. . . . You leave it behind you and get ready for this next challenge.”
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