Alex Smith’s Return Makes Him Favorite for Comeback Player of the Year

By Patrick Hayes   October 28, 2020 

Alex Smith’s Return Makes Him Favorite for Comeback Player of the Year

When Alex Smith entered Washington’s week five loss to the Los Angeles Rams, it didn’t really matter what the score was or that he couldn’t rally the Washington football team to a win.

For a player who suffered a horrific broken leg during a game in November 2018, stepping onto the field in a NFL game for the first time in nearly two years was accomplishment enough. The injury alone could’ve been career-ending. But it also could’ve been life-ending – an infection during the recovery at one time would have created a need for the leg to be amputated or could’ve even killed Smith.

It’s no wonder that Smith’s return even got the attention of President Barack Obama.

Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith (11) is carted off the field after suffering an lower leg injury during a game between the Washington Redskins and the Houston Texans at FedEX Field on November 18, 2018, in Landover, MD. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann, who suffered his own awful leg injury, already said Smith should win Comeback Player of the Year. But can he do more than that?

Smith, a former No. 1 pick, is playing for a Washington team that has a bad record, but also plays in a bad division that they could compete in all year. They have a new head coach in Ron Rivera, and a second-year quarterback in Dwayne Haskins who Rivera didn’t choose and who has already been benched. His replacement, Kyle Allen, has had the offense running better, but he’s also committed awful turnovers that have cost Washington at least one game. 

So, if Rivera’s goal is to make a playoff push, could he turn to the veteran Smith, who built his career on being a steady, risk-averse quarterback who may not win many games on his own but also won’t lose games for you? 

In his one game of action, Smith was 9-for-17 for 37 yards. His mobility was understandably limited – he rushed one time for one yard, but used to be one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the league. 

Alex Smith #11 of the Washington Football Team drops back to throw a pass against the Los Angeles Rams in the second half at FedExField on October 11, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Those numbers weren’t good, but for a player getting two years worth of rust off, weren’t terrible either. And with Haskins likely not long for Washington and Allen not viewed as a long-term answer, the football team is precisely hoping that Smith can play his way back onto the field as their full-time starter this season, according to CBS Sports

Washington is currently 1-5, but that puts them just two games back in the NFC East race, currently led by Dallas. And Dallas has its own quarterback problems – Dak Prescott is out of for the season after suffering a horrific leg injury of his own. 

The question shouldn’t be as much about Smith as it should be about how Washington can protect him, though. The team has a porous offensive line. There are also few weapons. Leading rusher Antonio Gibson averages less than four yards per carry. Leading receiver Terry McLaurin averages only 13.5 yards per catch, and the team doesn’t make many big plays – their longest play from scrimmage of the season has been only 40 yards.

Smith is clearly physically well enough to be back on the field, and his career track record shows that he’s smart enough to help Washington limit mistakes. But for a team devoid of explosive weapons, it’s doubtful Smith could turn around the team’s fortunes, even if returning as a full-time starter would certainly be a good story.

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