The Alex Smith story has captivated not only Washington Football Team fans, but football fans across the country. After suffering a devastating leg injury almost two seasons ago, an injury that ultimately almost killed him, Alex Smith was cleared for full football activities last week. A year ago, it was virtually unfathomable that Smith would be able to return anywhere remotely close to playing form, but the entire time during his rehabilitation process, he consistently said his plan was to play again. Not many believed Smith. Not many within the organization, not many outside the organization, and I’m not even sure Smith fully knew himself whether he would be able to return or not.
But who are we to doubt a man that was on the cusp of death and made a full recovery?
Who are we to say what someone is or isn’t capable of doing?
Alex Smith showed the entire world of football that when you are determined to do something, and you don’t take “you can’t” as an answer, you always give yourself a chance to do the unthinkable and change the course of history. I have followed Smith’s progress throughout his rehabilitation process, and I commend the Washington Football organization for never giving up on him. It’s truly an eye-watering story. The question now is, what’s next for Alex Smith? Does the Washington Football Team really expect Smith to compete for a starting quarterback job this training camp? Do they really intend on putting Smith back on the field in a live game and risk him re-injuring himself even worse than he did previously?
Where does Alex Smith fit into Washington’s plans? It’s truly an intriguing conversation especially since they have a quarterback that they invested a first round pick on an off season ago, and another they traded for this past off season that already knows the system. Head coach Ron Rivera has consistently said that if Smith was able to return this season, he would get an opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback position because he had earned that right. I tend to agree. If he is on the roster, and has been cleared to resume full football activities, there is absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t be afforded the chance to compete just like everybody else in camp. Smith worked at an inhuman pace to get himself not only in shape, but to get healthy enough to even put himself in position to ever step on a football field again; and when I say “step”, I LITERALLY mean “step” after it was unknown if he would ever have the full use of his leg again or even have a leg post-surgery. The quarterbacks have been erratic throughout the first part of training camp, so the door is seemingly wide open for anyone to assume control of the position. Current starter on the depth chart, Dwayne Haskins looks to be the front-runner pending a drastic drop off in his level of play or some unforeseen change in the production from backups Kyle Allen or Alex Smith.
I’m sure Ron Rivera is hoping that one of the three makes it an easy decision by performing at a high level these next couple of weeks. In Smith’s case, he just needs to get back in a rhythm and get acclimated with the playbook, which I’m sure he is because he has always been the consummate professional. I have to admit that it’s great seeing clips of him running around throwing the football showing no glaring effects of the traumatic injury he suffered. I’m pretty sure that now that he has returned, he is ready to just play football and stop talking about the injury so it isn’t always in the front of his mind.
Washington will undoubtedly rally around Smith, and the offensive line will block like it has never blocked before if he takes the field. One thing is for sure, if they don’t block their butt off because they like and respect Alex, they darn sure will block their butt off because you don’t want to be labeled “the guy that got Alex Smith injured again”. Every play Smith is on the field, the players around him will want to give maximum effort and not let down a guy who is literally risking his life to play the game he loves. That’s a lot of pressure on the players around him and I’m not sure many recognize that. You don’t want to be the lineman that misses that key block. You don’t want to be the receiver that drops that great throw. It just isn’t a good look on any front. So I guess you can say in a way having Alex Smith on the field should raise the level of play from the supporting cast. I could be grabbing at straws, but it makes perfect sense to me. Ron Rivera has a tough decision on his hands as well because if Alex Smith legitimately wins out the quarterback competition, he will have to make the call as to whether or not he feels comfortable putting Smith’s health in jeopardy by subjecting him to further injury. Alex is a grown man at the end of the day. He knows what he signed up for. He knows the risks he is taking by stepping back out on that football field. It just remains to be seen if he is capable of returning to form, but is it really worth finding out? As you were…
Photo Credit: Elijah Walter Griffin Sr/Washington Football Team