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Alex Smith, Redskins Offense Set Tone with Deep Throws, Aggressive Play-Calls to Beat Packers

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The Washington Redskins bounced back from a dreadful Week 2 performance to stun the Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers 31-17 Sunday. Washington used aggressive play calling and a commitment from Alex Smith that kept the Packers defense off balance.

Yes, Alex Smith was the most accurate quarterback throwing beyond 20 yards last season in Kansas City with the weapons of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce at his disposal, however, through the first two weeks of the season, the deep throws were essentially non-existent from Smith while with the Redskins. The check-down throw was the theme for the Jay Gruden offense. On Sunday against the Packers, that theme changed. From the onset, Smith and Washington’s passing game was more aggressive.

Smith found wide receiver Paul Richardson against double coverage for a 46-yard touchdown pass on the game’s opening drive. That play set the tone for the offense for the remainder of the game.

Later in the first quarter, Smith attacked the Packers secondary again down the field with Richardson, this time drawing a pass interference call on Packers rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander. The 22-yard penalty moved the Redskins into Packers territory, and with the aid of a second pass interference call the very next play, kept the momentum on Washington’s side. They would finish the drive with an Adrian Peterson touchdown that extended the Redskins’ lead to 14-0.

The Redskins continued to attack down the field, including a 34-yard pick up where Smith connected with tight end Jordan Reed deep over the middle in the second quarter against a Packers blitz on 3rd down. The offensive line gave him time and Smith wondered his eyes around until Reed cleared Packers linebacker Clay Matthews for him to deliver the pass for the first down and more.

Washington would later score on that drive. And then just before the halftime, when most team’s play it safe, Smith continued with the game plan of attacking the Packers down the field. On 2nd-and-7, Smith again beat the Packers defense, as he found Vernon Davis running a wheel route down the sideline off of play-action. The pass traveled 20 yards in the air, and Davis picked up another 30 for a 50-yard gain.

The Redskins would score their fourth touchdown of the half on a Peterson run, extending their lead to 28-10 just before half time.

While, they’d score just three points in the second half and Smith’s passing cooled off, the damage was done and the Green Bay deficit was insurmountable.

In all, Smith finished the game 12-of-20 for 220 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Numbers that seem pedestrian. But the four big throws that led to all four scoring drives stood out beyond the overall finished production.

Smith entered Sunday’s game 2-of-7 on passes over 16 yards through the first two weeks. Examining further he was 1-of-4 of passes 20 yards or more. Against, the Packers, Smith was 3-of-3 over 16 yards, including 2-of-2 over 20 yards. That does not include the pass interference Richardson drew on the Redskins second drive of the game. That pass was for 22 yards.

By attacking on offense, the Redskins defense was aided, forcing Rodgers and the Green Bay offense to play catch up for the entire game.

How aggressive the Redskins were on Sunday was imperative considering they were facing Rodgers on the other side. Points outweighed ball control. Smith has a tendency of taking his eyes off intermediate-to-deep route receivers. Not on Sunday. Smith was committed and took the shots when needed.

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