-Sunday will mark a battle of 14-year NFL veterans. Alex Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick have amassed 33,755 yards/192 touchdowns and 28,784 yards/190 touchdowns, respectively. Smith accomplished his feat with three different teams, spending seven years with San Francisco, five years with Kansas City and is in his first season with Washington. Fitzpatrick was a little bit more of a journeyman, as you probably know by now, having been with seven different teams in his nearly decade-and-a-half in the league.
Head Coach Dirk Koetter took some time to talk about the quarterback his team is about to face and what kind of player he is.
“He’s a 14-year vet,” Koetter said. “He takes care of the ball. He takes very little risk. If you looked up the MO on Alex Smith, call up the Chief fans and see what his MO was. See what his MO is in Washington. That doesn’t mean that doesn’t win. His record speaks for itself – he’s won a lot of games, but Alex Smith from whenever he started clear back with Urban Meyer, University of Utah, he has done a great job of taking care of the football his entire career and that’s why he’s been a starting quarterback for 14 years.”
Alex Smith is known for a more conservative style of play. He likely won’t be throwing a lot of deep balls or taking risks in throwing on the run. It’s a West Coast style offense, lending itself to shorter passes and possession throws, where Smith excels because he’s accurate, decisive and understands his offense thoroughly. He’ll beat you with consistency, not flashiness. And he will beat you. Like Coach Koetter said, he wouldn’t have been a starting quarterback for 14 years if he didn’t.
But forget all that. Here are the facts you really want to know.
When Fitz and Smith entered the league in 2005:
-You were walking down a Boulevard of Broken Dreams with Green Day, Mariah Carey was telling you We Belong Together, Kanye West was having some Gold Digger issues, R. Kelly was Trapped in the Closet and Gwen Stefani introduced us all to the term ‘Hollaback Girl’ …still never got any clarification as to what that is (you better believe I was listening to a ‘Hits of 2005’ playlist while writing this)
-Xbox 360 was introduced by Microsoft and Facebook and MySpace started allowing high school users to subscribe to their sites
-Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was released
-How I Met Your Mother and The Colbert Report debuted
-Actor Tom Cruise jumped on a couch
-George H.W. Bush was president
-Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans area
-Wide receiver DeSean Jackson will be a captain for this weekend’s game against his former team. The team has five consistent captains and one rotating captain each week. Jackson will be the rotating captain as he goes against his former team. Before Jackson came to Tampa Bay in 2017, he had been with Washington for three seasons. He still has relationships with a good amount of guys on the current team and is looking forward to going against them on Sunday at home.
“I’ve got a great relationship with all [those] dudes from Josh Norman to ‘Swag’ (D.J. Swearinger Sr.) to Quinton Dunbar,” Jackson said. “All them are great friends of mine. It’ll be a great opportunity to go play against some familiar faces and talk some smack. In between the white lines, no friends. After the game, maybe before the game, we can talk a little bit, but I between that line, I just want to win.”
Jackson was familiar with Washington even before he played there, spending six years with the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles. He has the second-most touchdowns against any single opponent against Washington with five, behind only his six he’s had against the New York Giants. Jackson seems to play well when it’s personal and this game will be for him.
-This year more than any other seems to have seen an offensive explosion across the league. It’s all anyone can talk about. And sure, it’s easy to talk about the creativity coming out, the ridiculous numbers quarterbacks are putting up and press replay on every impossible one-handed catch receivers these days are making. But what about the defenses?
Defenses react to what the opposing offense is showing. Therefore, as offenses start to ramp up, so will defensive efforts. And the Bucs have gone against some great defenses and are about to face another one when Washington comes in town this weekend. Just ask wide receiver Mike Evans.
“Really good secondary,” Evans said of the Washington secondary. “Really good front [seven]. I feel like each defense that we’ve been playing this year are really good defenses even though it’s been an offensive year this year. People are sleeping on the defense that’s being played. Guys are making big plays, but there’s some really good defenses and we’ve been playing a lot of them.”
He's right about that. Playing around with the stats machine, I ranked each defense by number of quarterback hits because I think that’s better than just going off sacks. Hits imply not only sacks but immense pressure on the quarterback. The Bucs play, or have played, nine of the top 12 teams in quarterback hits. Washington is third with 108 on the year so far. They also rank fifth in overall rushing defense, allowing 89.4 yards per game. That probably aids in why they get so many hits on the quarterback – they force the QB to pass, theoretically making him hold the ball longer and giving them more time to get to him. Luckily, the Bucs’ offensive line is already used to holding for longer to allow plays to develop.
View photos from the Buccaneers' practice Wednesday at the AdventHealth Training Center.