Preston Smith didn’t log many tackles this game, but the tackles he did make were not lacking quality. Smith was a game wrecker, finishing the game with 4 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception against Minnesota. The early sack fell into his lap, a play that was created by none other than the most improved player himself, Trent Murphy. Trent’s pressure, moved Bradford off his spot, directly into the hands of Smith. However it happened, that sack secured another three and out by the Vikings that led to Washington’s second touchdown drive of the game to go up 14-0.
This game seems to have just been made for Smith, coaches and fans have been mightily disappointed in his play so far, specifically rushing the passer and he knew it. Each big play opportunity that came his way, he made and even created his own opportunity late to seal the game for his team. The interception was greatly contributed to Preston’s size, with a 34-inch arm length the pass thrown towards him was an easy deflection that happened to hang in the air for him to grab with one hand. Not only did his athleticism stand out, but his growth as a player. Often times people questioned why Preston Smith was dropping back into coverage, but it is clear that this is apart of his maturation as a NFL 3-4 outside linebacker. On that interception Smith did a great job disguising his assignment showing blitz early on and what impresses me is he dropped back in the right window with a perfect placement in zone coverage. Confusing Bradford in the process, leading him to essentially throw right at Preston Smith.
To top off Smith’s impressive outing against Minnesota, he dashed the Vikings hopes of winning by sacking Sam Bradford on 4th down to win the game. He beat his match up off the line with speed, getting to Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford immediately after he completed his drop back. As stated before, this was a game that was needed by Smith from his coaches and teammates. In his post-game interview with CSN Mid Atlantic show Redskins Extra, Smith responded to how it felt being able to finally get home to the quarterback saying “It felt great to get out there and get some success on some rushes and get to the quarterback and get some sacks, you know it’s been a rough year for me a rough start with the lack of sacks and it just felt great to get out there and get to Sam Bradford.” The second year player also commented on his potential in the second half of the season, “I feel like I can close strong, of course I want to make sure I have a better second half of the season than the first half like last year I started out kind of rough and the second half I picked it up just like this year I plan on picking it up a lot in the second half of the season.”
Smith has all the tools and opportunity to string together some good games and make a difference for this defensive unit, he has gotten off to a good start in doing so in his first game of the second half of the season.