Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith is still adjusting to his new environment. It bodes well that his team is 4-2 and in first place in the NFC East despite his obvious struggles through six games.
Smith and the offense managed just 13 points in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. But that - and help from the defense, which scored a touchdown of its own - were enough for a critical 20-17 win.
It wasn't pretty and it wasn't perfect and maybe they rarely will be for Smith and the Redskins this season. Smith will inevitably be compared to Kirk Cousins, the man he replaced in Washington. He has six touchdowns and just two interceptions. There have been few shots deep down field, something that had changed in recent years when Smith was in Kansas City, but has deserted him again in 2018 with fewer weapons.
"We've had a lot of similar carry-over concepts from Kansas City and from where he's been with San Francisco," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "Alex has been taught different things. Sometimes I take that for granted. He's a 15-year vet and he probably doesn't need to know how to read this certain concept because he's done it so many times. But, we might have a little tweak on it."
Smith finished with a 91.8 passer rating. But the offense wasn't exactly ripping off big chunks of yardage, either. Smith finished 14-for-25 with 178 passing yards. He had a touchdown pass, but running back Kapri Bibbs and the offensive linemen out in front of him did most of the work on the 23-yard screen.
It doesn't help that Smith is missing some weapons. Chris Thompson, one of the NFL's best third-down backs, was out with rib and knee injuries. The reliable Jamison Crowder was in a walking boot for his injured right ankle and moving past the locker room on a scooter this week. Paul Richardson Jr., by far Washington's best deep threat, missed the Dallas game with knee and shoulder injuries.
But every team has injuries so excuses are meaningless. The Redskins stalled inside the 10 twice and had to settle for Dustin Hopkins field goals. That was a common theme in the Carolina game, too, the previous week - also a narrow 23-17 victory. Washington has just one offensive touchdown in the second half of games this season.
"In the last two weeks, I've had great opportunities to get some points there at the half at least to give ourselves a chance and it didn't get done," Smith said. "For different reasons. But certainly, I felt like missed opportunities out there by us on offense. It's something that no doubt (we) look to improve on."
SERIES HISTORY: 171st regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 99-67-4 and won last year's season finale 18-10 at MetLife Stadium. Washington has lost of its last 11 games on the road to New York.