For the second time in four years, Washington made an offseason trade for a veteran quarterback, this time acquiring Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts.
What advice would Alex Smith, who came to Washington ahead of the 2018 season in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, give to the new man under center and under the microscope in the DMV?
"Oh, man," Smith said on “The Rich Eisen Show” Wednesday, before letting out a hearty guffaw. "That's... that's tough.
“I think you've got to try to eliminate the noise there. You know, there's a lot of noise, there's a lot of distractions, that entire organization, everything surrounding it,” Smith continued. "And obviously deservedly, it's been flawed the last 20 years. There's a lot of stuff going on there, a lot of distractions. And it makes it difficult to kind of focus in on on the football."
And, in Smith’s mind, that makes a “make or break” year for Wentz even more challenging.
“He’s gotta lock-in, he cannot, like I said, can’t get distracted. I mean this is an opportunity he’s gotta go make the most of it. It’s gonna be telling, can he do that?” Smith said. “Can he go make the most of this kinda last opportunity to be the guy here with all that going on?”
And all that pressure can make some guys “toe the line” or it can make guys crumble and they can’t handle it, Smith added.
Washington’s former QB said it remains to be seen if the current QB can overcome the environment and his past struggles to prove he can be the main man for the Commanders. Smith said it also remains to be seen if the “turmoil” in Washington has been settled down, as well.
So did the turmoil in the front office impact on-field performance?
"God, yeah. I mean, how could it not? How could it not?" he told Eisen. "From all the stuff there… just the entire organization, from ownership down, head coaching and GM, it's a lot of, you know, there's been historically a lot of drama there. It’s a big market, obviously, the capital and a lot going on.
"That organization is a really storied franchise, and yeah, there's a lot of turmoil and a lot of distractions. So to say that the stuff going on in the building doesn't infiltrate the locker room or out in the field would be crazy – that happens everywhere,” Smith said.
“I think that's what great organizations eliminate, and the bad ones have a hard time with. All that noise creeps into the building. Yeah, it does. It does affect the product on the field. The great organizations and coaches have a have a knack to keep that out of the building, to quiet the noise, to decrease distractions, and focus on football. But that's easier said than done."