Alex Smith returns to NFL action close to two years since his gruesome leg injury

Landover, Md.– Alex Smith finally returned to an NFL field on Sunday, defying the odds of his 2018 leg injury.  He ran the offense for the Washington Football Team after starter Kyle Allen exited the game in the second quarter following a vicious hit by Rams defensive back, Jalen Ramsey.  

On November 18, 2018, a game between the Washington Redskins and the Houston Texans went south when Alex Smith became victim of a gruesome leg injury.  He was hit by two Texans players, and his right leg was destroyed.  

He was diagnosed with a broken fibula and tibia, but that wasn’t even the worst part.  What followed were 17 surgeries to fix the bones and an infection, which had evoked fears of an amputation.  He would make it through these procedures and would proceed to a rigorous recovery process that would challenge hima at every turn.  This was documented by an E:60 named ‘Project 11’, which detailed his recovery and hardships during that time.

It was clear-cut to many that this injury had written the final chapters in Smith’s NFL career, and that even if he did return, he would be a shell of the former pro-bowl quarterback he once was.  Alex Smith, however, wanted to write his own ending to HIS story.

It started in August, when he was finally cleared for an NFL return.  He was finally back and working with the recently renamed Washington Football Team.  Then, in September, it was announced by the team that he was a part of the 53 man roster.  While all of this was great and he was already defying the odds, it didn’t seem like these accomplishments would accumulate into playing time.  He was placed third on the depth chart, behind promising young quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, and 2019 Carolina Panthers starter Kyle Allen.  

The first four weeks of the 2020 season for Haskins proved to be underwhelming, prompting a change at the position by head coach Ron Rivera.  Kyle Allen was named the starter and Haskins would be bumped down to third in the depth chart, which positioned Allen at number two.  The October 11th matchup with the Los Angeles Rams would be the first time Smith actually suited up for a game since his injury, which was an accomplishment in itself.  However, the real story came in the midst of battle.

With just about two minutes left in the second quarter, Kyle Allen was brutally hit by star defensive back Jalen Ramsey and was taken off the field.  Just like that, Alex Smith was on an NFL field less than two years since his leg was being threatened with a possible amputation.  With all the excitement for this moment, there were also just as many nerves, as Smith had taken no hits since his injury, leaving everyone on edge.

“I’m watching Alex Smith play like I’m a concerned mother,” said former NFL linebacker and Fox Sports Analyst Emmanuel Acho.

It didn’t take long for him to be tested, as he was sacked by elite defensive lineman Aaron Donald for a four yard loss.  Following a Kendall Fuller interception for Washington, Smith was still able to show his grit and heart, marching his team 29 yards downfield in just 50 seconds, which resulted in a field goal to end the half.

Unfortunately, the lack of Washington pass protection proved to be overwhelming for the 36 year old quarterback.  He was sacked six times for 31 yards and was constantly pressured in the pocket.  He finished the game 9-17 with 37 yards passing and an underwhelming QBR of 58.7 in their 30-10 loss to the Rams.  For head coach Ron Rivera, though, it wasn’t about the numbers.

“He got his opportunity and he did a good job. I was very pleased with what I saw. He was put in a very difficult position, and I thought he handled himself very well,” Rivera said.

That begs the question: can Alex Smith earn the starting job by the end of the 2020 season?

We know this isn’t likely going to be the case for the team’s next matchup with the Giants, as the team claimed that Kyle Allen will remain the starter barring his health.  That doesn’t mean that Smith can’t work his way to the top of the depth chart by week 17.  He is a seasoned veteran, and if he’s able to get in great shape and impress the coaching staff, we might not have seen the last of number 11 on the field this year.