Will Alex Smith’s concerns apply to Commanders in 2023?
Will Alex Smith’s recent comments apply to Sam Howell this upcoming season?
Smith knows something about overcoming adversity as an NFL quarterback; even more, he knows about severe adversity in real life such as almost having your leg amputated.
Ex-NFL player Alex Smith questions defensive-minded head coaches' ability to develop quarterbacks https://t.co/AQHc3oQsbr pic.twitter.com/BMdjMIHlUe
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Smith quarterbacked Washington in the 2018 and 2020 NFL seasons. Previously he had been with the 49ers for 7 seasons after they drafted him and 5 seasons with the Chiefs, the last of which he mentored current star Patrick Mahomes.
Smith voiced his concern this week (on SiriusXM’s NFL Radio) for young NFL quarterbacks who are forced to play under a defensive head coach. He questioned how well a defensive head coach can develop a young quarterback.
“There is a different mentality, from my career, when you play for an offensive head coach that wants to light up the scoreboard and outscore the opponent,” Smith said.
“There’s a different mentality you have, especially as a young quarterback versus a defensive head coach, when really the [coach’s] mentality is, ‘Hey, don’t screw up, don’t turn the ball over, don’t put us in a bad situation.’ … That’s a huge difference in a mentality and a mindset for a young quarterback, especially if it’s a bit rocky to start.”
It’s no secret Smith was drafted by the 49ers in 2005, and his first head coach was former Washington defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Nolan was the head coach for Smith’s first seasons (2005-2008) before being replaced by former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Mike Singletary (2008-10).
Three more seasons with the defensively intense Singletary before Smith had himself an offensive-minded head coach in Jim Harbaugh in 2011.
After two seasons with Harbaugh (2011-12), Smith went to Kansas City playing for head coach Andy Reid from 2013-17. So, is there any reason to doubt that Smith is not merely speaking abstractly? He is speaking from his many years of experience in the NFL.
But might much of this depend upon how much the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator build a relationship with the quarterback? For instance, yes, Ron Rivera a former linebacker for the Chicago Bears is Sam Howell’s head coach here in Washington.
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Yet, if Rivera truly gives control of the offense over to Eric Bieniemy, then isn’t it up to Bieniemy and quarterbacks coach Tavita Pritchard to build as much a rapport as possible with Howell? This is after all Bieniemy’s opportunity to take on more leadership with an NFL offense. Isn’t this why he departed Kansas City and future Hall-of-Famer Patrick Mahomes?
I could be entirely wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time) but Alex Smith’s experiences with his defensive head coaches do not have to necessarily be a very similar experience for Sam Howell. Bieniemy and Pritchard could go a long way in preventing Smith’s experiences from being repeated with Howell.