Considering the big move they made, and the decision to let Kirk Cousins walk, there's only one thing Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden could say about the change at quarterback: They're better. And that's what he said to reporters during breakfast at the owners meetings in Orlando, Florida.
"Yeah, without a doubt," Gruden said when asked if Washington is better off after trading for Alex Smith. "I don't want to compare two players, but we're always trying to be better at every position. We got better. Alex's experience is well-noted, and his record the last five years is what it is. You could argue that all day, but we feel very good."
That's exactly what Gruden should say, otherwise why make the moves they did? The Redskins traded a third-round pick and corner Kendall Fuller to Kansas City for Smith. They let Cousins leave via free agency.
The Redskins need to say they're better off with Smith, otherwise they would be admitting a mistake. But they do like Smith and feel he's a better fit for their situation. For starters, he signed a long-term contract, something that wasn't going to happen with Cousins.
They've pointed to Smith's record with Kansas City -- the Chiefs were 50-26 with him starting. However, Smith would be the first to say he couldn't do it alone. And of the defenses he played with, four ranked among the top 10 in points allowed (they were 15th this past year). Two were top 10 in yards allowed, though the other three were 24th or lower.
The Redskins haven't had a defense finish top 10 in points allowed since 2008. In fact, that's the last time they had a defense ranked in the top half in points allowed. There's only so much a quarterback can do, whether it's Cousins or Smith. That's why the Redskins can say they're better off, and Cousins can say the same thing about his situation with Minnesota.
But Gruden does like a lot of what Smith brings to Washington. He said the team can expand its offense because of those skills. Keep in mind that Cousins topped 4,000 passing yards each of the past three seasons.
"It's not one thing, it's everything. It's the entire body of work," Gruden said of Smith. "He's very good at the intermediate ball. He's good with the quick game. He can run zone reads, the [run-pass options]. Very exciting. ... The ability to ad-lib, make plays that aren't there and keep plays alive. Coaching him for the first time will be exciting because I don't think there's a limit on what he can do. He has all the thing you want a quarterback to be able to do."