Here’s what Washington quarterback Alex Smith said to the Washington media Wednesday:
On areas where the offense needs to improve: "I think you analyze everything across the board as far as improving execution. I think that happens week in and week out. I think the ones that stand out though are the situational stuff, the third downs that you don’t convert because they would have given you a whole other rack of opportunities. The red zone, obviously because it's so vital. I think the situational stuff always tends to jump out when you don’t execute, because of its magnitude, but certainly I think, it could first or second down, too, and you're still obviously trying to correct any of those things. Like I said, the situational stuff, certainly there is a premium to operate."
On his impressions of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: "Good player. He's a safety that I think has a lot of tools, and I think that’s important right now in football. The way football is going, safeties get put in a lot of different situations, with what offenses are doing now. Not only do you have you, you just to just have a box safety and a post safety and that was kind of the deal and now I think either of those guys with what offenses are doing, can get put in space, get manned up on guys, they can get put in the box, they need to be able to tackle, they need to be able to play the post when they have to. I think a little bit, you kind of need a player like that, that's a little bit of a jack of all trades, can do a little bit of everything because of all the situations they can end up in."
On how he feels about the use of run-pass options: "It is one of those things week-to-week. Some weeks it makes a ton of sense and even feel like some weeks you can predict that in the week of prep and what we're seeing on film that, 'Hey it's going to be a big week for this.' Sometimes it doesn’t make as much sense and sometimes in game you never totally know how teams will react to things. I think we’ve seen some different adjustments that teams have made to us, in game, to some of it. I think as we continue to kind of build on it you have a more sophisticated deal around it – the things off of it – the things that go with it, stuff like that. So, it is a week-to-week thing though based on what we are seeing in our matchups and the schemes that they run."
On if he has a preference between RPOs and traditional play-calling: "No, no I don’t. I mean I like both. I feel like we have both, we do a lot of both. Sometimes it's nice. I do think you don’t always have to be right with the call sometimes, you know, you don’t have to predict coverage, pressure, loaded box, not loaded, I think it kind of takes care of all that stuff. Depending on how aggressive the defense wants to be, or not, you've got answers."
On what RB Adrian Peterson has meant to the offense:
"It's tough to put into words anything like that. I think to one player, certainly he's a guy that's been our bell cow back there, bringing a lot of physicality, a lot of energy and a guy I think we are asking a lot of and we're moving around and I think he's enjoying that. You've seen him get a chance and an opportunity to do things he hasn’t always had the chance to do in his past, some of the gun-run stuff, some of the catching out the backfield and to see the playmaking all over the field has been fun. He's a guy that we feed off of, I know the mindset and attitude that he brings certainly fits with what we want to be about up front and our style of play."
On strengthening the connection with tight end Jordan Reed:
"Without a doubt, yeah, he and I talk all the time. No question, I think you are always building on that chemistry. I talk about that a lot. But you are always trying to continue to build, certainly neither of us are content with where we are at, we have a long way to go and just looking to build on it every single week."
On if he is thinking too much about turning the ball over:
"No, I don’t feel like I have at all. I don’t feel like I've turned down any opportunities or chances down field because of cautiousness or anything like that. I feel like you've got to be able to pull the trigger. We are trying to score points, trying to move the football. I can't think of a situation this year ever where I felt like I was being cautious with the football, not to say you don’t miss things, but it's not because of that. I think you do that with your fundamentals, you do that with your decision making, location of the football, ball handling in the pocket, two hands on the ball, ball security, things like that when you are handling it, you let your fundamentals take care of that."
On the message that is sent from acquiring Clinton-Dix:
"I don’t know about messages or anything like that, I don’t want to get into that too much. Certainly, yeah we are trying to get better in all areas. There are so many areas to a football team, certainly us as players trying to get it corrected in the meeting rooms and on the field and obviously try to work, but obviously there is the personnel side of this as well that we don’t have a lot of control over. But everybody's on board in this building with what we are trying to do."
On how defensive tackles and pressure up the middle affects quarterbacks: "I think a lot of times as quarterbacks we get trained within our pocket movement. A lot of times you do get trained with edge pressure, you get trained a lot of times, wherever it may be with free rushers, how to avoid, things you can do, escape drills, all that stuff. I mean quarterbacks get taught a lot on that. There's not much you can do when you just get interior push up the middle. It affects you in a lot of ways; vision, it's hard to see, it's tough to step into throws and like I said, it's not something you train as far as an escape route. There isn’t necessarily a lot of times a place to go – you're just getting pushed – it's a little suffocating sometimes when that happens. It’s tough to train for and tough to play against."
On what has impressed him about offensive lineman Ty Nsekhe filling in for offensive lineman Trent Williams: "I think the biggest compliment could be that nothing changes, we don't skip a beat. Play calling-wise, run, pass, you name it, nothing really skips a beat and that is very, very rare in this league. I think when in the middle of the game, your All-Pro left tackle goes out, it’s a rarity to have a guy like Ty to step in and do what he does."
On learning players' idiosyncrasies: "There are times when you are playing a peer zone defense and we are throwing a timing route and we're spacing the field that there is a premium on where guys have to be, where they are supposed to be on time and I have to throw the ball on time and accurately and I think there is a premium on that. But, certainly when you are playing man defenses, the route is kind of a living thing and I'd say if anything, most of the time it's between the two, when you are playing a zone team, but a lot of times they man up in the zone and they play leverage and things like that. There is really a premium on both the receiver and quarterbacks seeing the same thing and reacting to it the same way and I think that’s the hard part. You are seeing the same thing on the fly, reacting to it the same way. There are times when it is cut and dry, when its pure zone and we're spacing the field and timing routes and there are times when it's purely man and you just beat him. But, a lot of times it's a blend of the two and I think you've got to see the same thing, react to it the same way."
On how hard it is to build chemistry between players who are dealing with injuries: "I think it's complicated for a ton of reasons, not just that. I think every team kind of deals with that. I think it’s complicated because on a weekly basis it changes based on the kind of scheme you are seeing. You try to get a lot of that predicted on the practice field, in the meeting rooms, you talk about it. You can't get it all done though there. I think some of that just takes reps and accumulation. I think a blend of obviously new faces that come in and we're all kind of learning it together. There's so much that goes into that, that's why it is obviously hard to get and it's something you are constantly working on."
On the difference in practice reps versus game reps: "You can never totally simulate what a game rep will look like. The edge you play with on game day, as far as speed and physicality, it would be reckless to do it out here on the practice field. So you just can't get that done a lot of times without the huge risk of injury. I think you try to do the best you can out here, but there is always a difference."