Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith took aim at the franchise in an interview this week, saying that the team "didn't want me" after he made a miraculous return from a serious leg injury, and hesitated to give him a "fair shake" once Smith made it back to the active roster. When Dwayne Haskins struggled early on and Kyle Allen was injured, however, Smith finally made his return to the field on Oct. 11 against the Los Angeles Rams, and held the starting spot until he suffered a calf injury toward the end of the regular season.
Smith completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions in eight games played in 2020, but went an impressive 5-1 as the starter. Washington ended up finishing with a 7-9 record and won its first NFC East title since 2015 in large part due to Smith, who was named the 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Clearly it has been a tough few years for Smith, but what would cause him to verbally attack his current team? This is something that 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen set out to discover, and in talking to several people in and around the Washington Football Team, he has come up with two primary instances which compounded Smith's frustration.
An instance that reportedly rubbed Smith's camp the wrong way took place ahead of Washington's pivotal Week 17 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. The winner of this game would claim the NFC East and secure a playoff spot, and Smith's 4-1 record was a big reason Washington was sitting in this favorable spot. A reporter lobbed Washington head coach Ron Rivera what appeared to be a softball question, asking Rivera if Washington would be in the position they were without Smith. Instead of praising his best quarterback, Rivera went another way with it.
"Well, if we had a healthy Kyle Allen, I think we could've. I really do," Rivera said, via The Team 980. "I think we could've. And a big part of the reason is because Kyle, he's very similar to Alex in terms of his abilities. He's got the same kind of arm. He makes good decisions like Alex does. He's got good footwork. I think we could've been. I do."
The other instance that reportedly upset Smith was not starting in Washington's playoff game. While Smith started and won the pivotal contest in Philly, he was clearly hampered by the calf injury he suffered a few weeks earlier. Reports surfaced leading up to Washington's Super Wild-Card Weekend matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that Smith may be inactive, and sure enough, it was Taylor Heinicke who got the start. Heinicke turned his impressive performance in the 31-23 loss into a two-year extension with Washington, but the franchise reportedly isn't done adding under center.
Washington can save nearly $15 million by releasing Smith this offseason, and it's fair to speculate that he knows something we don't regarding his immediate future.