Alex Smith defends chemistry with receivers: ‘It’s going well’

September 19, 2018

ASHBURN Prior to practice Wednesday, Redskins quarterback Alex Smith called the trio of Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder “crazy talented.” But through two games, the three wide receivers haven’t translated that talent into production.

Smith has just 18 completions to his wideouts for only 173 yards. They have yet to find the end zone.

Short on depth, the Redskins signed two veteran pass catchers (Michael Floyd and Bashad Perriman) earlier in the week. But, heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Green Bay Packers, the franchise needs to get its top three wideouts untracked.

There’s no problem with chemistry, Smith said.

“I think it’s going well,” Smith said. “I think it’s going really well. It’s hard looking at the numbers with these first two weeks just the defenses we played, the style that they’ve played necessarily hasn’t dictated a lot of balls going outside to those guys. I feel really good about it. Those guys all work extremely hard. ... It’s one of those things that it’s a process that never ends.

“You’re constantly working at that.”

The sample size, granted, is small. Crowder, who has 40 yards on five completions to start the season, noted how long an NFL season can be. Offenses, too, typically tend to jell as the year goes on.

But the Redskins already saw how a team can limit them offensively by forcing them to check down, over and over, in Sunday’s loss to the Colts. After studying the tape, multiple players said the offense could have been more aggressive to get the Colts out of their “soft zone,” which gives up short throws to prevent big ones.

Richardson, who did not practice Wednesday and was listed on the injury report with a shoulder and knee injury, said the Redskins need to focus more on the intermediate routes. He added they were also hurt by not starting strong.

The Redskins trailed the whole Colts game and scored just three points by halftime.

“A lot of it is playmaking with getting the ball in our hands,” said Richardson, who has eight receptions for 85 yards, a high among the receivers. “If we do that, especially the earlier we get the ball in our hands, the early the better, so we can make somebody miss and go extend plays.”

Drops haven’t helped. Both Doctson and Richardson had notable instances when they failed to secure a catchable pass that would have been for big gains.

Coach Jay Gruden said the Redskins must do a better job of extending drives. Washington went just 5-of-15 on third down after converting 46 percent of those plays in Week 1.

Last season, the Redskins’ offense struggled to get the wide receivers involved and the unit took a step back as a whole. Washington aimed to fix the issue when they signed Richardson to a five-year, $40 million deal in free agency, hoping to add a deep threat to the offense. The team also hoped Doctson would take a step forward, too.

But so far, Smith has relied largely on his running backs and tight ends. Chris Thompson and Jordan Reed lead the team in targets.

“To get everybody involved, we have got to have the ball more,” Gruden said. “You’ve got to distribute the ball to the right people. You only have one ball and you want to get your playmakers the ball. ... But at the end of the day, none of them are going to get looks if we don’t convert on third down.”

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