When it comes to the Washington Football Team's offense, the grading of the unit will stem largely from the play of the quarterback. The position with the brightest spotlight on it does largely dictate how the team plays on a weekly basis.
In 2020, it hasn't been great no matter who is under center. Former Washington defensive back Fred Smoot, however, doesn't see that as solely the fault of the passers.
To him, there is another position on offense that is struggling to string together positive performances, making it difficult for any quarterback to thrive in the environment. That would be the offensive line.
“The bad is the offensive line," Smoot said on the Washington Football Team's 'The Good & The Bad' segment. "Listen to me, like [Former Washington offensive line] Coach Buges used to say, 'block them back there like your mama playing quarterback,' because right now they are protecting no one and that don’t matter if we put Alex [Smith] back there, Dwayne [Haskins] back there, if you don’t give them a chance to make plays the offense is going to be stagnant.
"You know one play they do it, one drive they do it, the next drive they don’t, you let a New York Giants, which is a not a bad defensive line, change that game," Smoot added.
As Smoot explains, the play of the offensive line goes hand-in-hand with any success of the offense, especially in the passing game. In order for a quarterback to find an open receiver downfield or go through their progressions, they need time to sit in the pocket and do just that.
For a majority of the snaps Washington has had on offense, that hasn't been the case. The group has allowed at least three sacks in six of eight contests and averages 3.5 sacks per game on the season, which ranks them second-to-last in the NFL.
Those numbers don't even include quarterback pressures, something Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen and Alex Smith have all dealt with. Even if the play doesn't end with the quarterback on the ground, it can lead to turnovers, throwaways or check-downs without time to find an open receiver down the field. Yes, the passers need to play better, but so does the offensive line.
Washington has been without Geron Christian and Saahdiq Charles for multiple weeks, and the return of potential key pieces could help the unit find some consistency. That will need to happen if the team is going to find success in the stretch run, because the person under center can only do so much when the defense is constantly in their face.