Alex Smith is speaking from experience when he tells Carson Wentz that the Washington Commanders’ off-field issues take their toll on the football team’s success.
The former Washington quarterback spent the final three years of his career in D.C., missing the entire 2019 season recovering from a broken leg before completing his comeback in 2020. He went 5-1 as a starter but didn’t stay healthy enough to play in their NFC Wild Card Game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Two years later, the now-Commanders have acquired Wentz in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts to be their next franchise quarterback. Smith joined The Rich Eisen Show on Wednesday and gave a pointed answer about his former organization when asked what his message would be to Wentz heading into next season.
“You gotta try to eliminate the noise there,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of distractions. That entire organization, everything surrounding it and obviously deservedly; it’s been flawed the last 20 years. There’s a lot of stuff going on there, a lot of distractions. It makes it difficult to focus in on the football.”
In addition to spending the last two years rebranding their organization, the Commanders have also endured some heavy scrutiny over an investigation into their workplace culture and the treatment of female employees. During Smith’s time with the franchise, he saw both his head coach Jay Gruden and team president Bruce Allen both fired as well.
The series of distractions was enough to impact the team’s play on the field.
“How could it not?” Smith asked. “All the stuff there with just the entire organization from ownership down, head coaching and GM, there’s been historically a lot of drama there. It’s a big market, obviously, the capital and a lot going on, and that organization is a really storied franchise and 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 on the field would be crazy. That’s what happens everywhere. 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.”
With a new head coach, a new name and a new quarterback, the Commanders are hoping to turn a new page in their franchise’s history. Wentz’s ability to drown out the noise and focus on improving his game will be critical to making that happen.