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Is Alex Better Than Kirk?

February 12, 2018
Is Alex Smith better than Kirk Cousins? That’s the question that has been debated for the last few weeks here in Washington and around the NFL. 

The better yet much less popular question is this: Is Alex Smith better than Colt McCoy and a rookie quarterback in 2018 and beyond? 

Yeah. That's the one nobody wants to talk about. As for the Cousins-Smith debate, this might be a straddling the fence type argument, but I believe a strong argument can be made for both quarterbacks and the bottom-line is this: They are similar and each does different things better than the other.

As I’ve said since the trade, in this space and on 106.7 the FAN, Alex Smith is a slight upgrade in my eyes because he costs less AND, on the field, I think he can throw better and more accurately on the run, as chaos ensues.

Smith, in my opinion, is better throwing as plays are extended and as coverage and pass rush integrity breaks down. Perhaps he’s a tad bit more athletic than Cousins but both are capable of hurting you.

I also think Jay Gruden is going to trust Smith more at the line of scrimmage, with more authority and juice, to adjust and play with instincts.

Perhaps Gruden will allow the Redskins to operate with more tempo by design, than they were able to with Cousins or chose to do with Cousins.

Who knows? Nobody seems to want to answer why the Redskins did not want to dictate tempo more by design or why they weren’t more pre-snap creative, even when they were healthy. The Eagles and Chiefs put on a clinic pre-snap and the belief should be that the “eye-candy” that Andy Reid served up helped Alex Smith and the Kansas City offense.

This isn’t about kicking Kirk Cousins on his way out the door. He’s a good to very good quarterback, who can and will get better and better. He’s not elite. He’s not great. He’s not going to the Hall of Fame or anything crazy like that.

Neither is Smith. And that’s just fine, too. Most importantly, the Redskins and specifically Jay Gruden chose him and gained even more savvy and experience, while saving a few dollars.

Ultimately, the difference will reveal itself on the field in some ways, but because the situations will be very different, it will be hard to tell and we may never know.

What are we left with? Well ….speculation and paralysis by analysis.

One longtime NFL executive was as blunt as you are ever going to see a couple of weeks ago, right after the trade, telling DCHotRead.com that Smith is a "better player than Cousins"  and is absolutely an "upgrade over Cousins."  The executive continued on the difference between the two, saying that Smith "may not have STATS like Cousins, but will be more productive in the red zone then Cousins." 

The source, clearly not a fan of the soon to be former Redskins quarterback, pointed out that Smith "will not SHUT DOWN mentally like Cousins does on a regular basis each and EVERY year."

I respectfully disagree with this executive on the hard-core nature of his view, but he's very much entitled to his perspective. His credentials absolutely give him that foundation to stand on. 

There's also this from former Giants star running back, Tiki Barber, who currently co-hosts a radio/TV show with my pal, Brandon Tierney on CBS Sports Radio & CBS Sports Network. He joined the Junkies on the FAN and NBC Sports Washington last week and offered this.

Barber feels the trade is “not an upgrade.” he mentioned, “maybe it’s a step sideways” but Barber also cited the problem that Cousins faced in 2017 when he told the Junkies,  “given the lack of talent on the Redskins last year…it was like good luck Kirk and he actually performed OK.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but whatever. 

Barber has been consistent with his support of Cousins in the past, so this makes sense. It’s a perfectly reasonable opinion, too.  Barber isn’t saying that Smith is lousy, while Cousins is heading to Canton in a few years.  He just doesn’t feel that Smith is an upgrade. Maybe a lateral move might be the best way to describe it?

Then there’s Aaron Rodgers, who is considered by many to be the best quarterback in the NFL and who ultimately should have gone number one over Alex Smith instead of falling all the way to the Green Bay Packers in 2005

Recently, on the Dan Patrick Show, Rodgers said about the Redskins, “they got the right piece in place at quarterback” and in his opinion “they’re ready to put some stuff together” in Washington.

Image result for Alex Smith


How much has Rodgers studied the Redskins current roster? Probably not much. He’s probably roughly familiar and knows they have some pieces, but does he really know how thin they are? Does he know how stubborn they are at running back?

Questions. We all have questions. Clearly, Smith is an upgrade (at least short-term) over what the potential plan was of Colt McCoy and a rookie. Clearly, Smith is cheaper, in 2018 and as a side by side price comparison of a long-term deal for Kirk Cousins.

Nobody will be able to truly answer this question until at least  late December, but the Redskins knew they created a bad situation by their own nonchalance and ineptitude and then had to dig themselves out of it.

Yes, it cost them a terrific slot corner, who had the potential to develop as a outside corner, and a third round pick in the upcoming draft, but while Barber is not sold – I think it’s clear that as long as the Redskins do a better job in other areas – the decision to move on to Smith over Cousins and certainly Smith over McCoy and a rookie, was a reasonably good choice.

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins, Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade for Monumental Sports Network (www.DCHotRead.com).  Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN       



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