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Alex Smith knows first year with Redskins is crucial

Alex Smith knows he won't be given a free pass in his first year in Washington.

The starting quarterback agreed with coach Jay Gruden's assessment that the Redskins must win out of the gate in Smith's first season.

"No, I don't think you can rely on the fact that, 'Oh, it's the first year here.' Nobody cares," Smith said recently, via NBC Washington. "It's not like in the fall, you guys are going to be like, 'Ah, well, this is his first year here. We'll give him a break.' It just doesn't work that way."

The Redskins missed the playoffs the last two seasons with Kirk Cousins, and haven't won a postseason game since the 2005 season.

Smith, meanwhile, was part of a Kansas City Chiefs squad that made the playoffs four of the past five seasons and never earned fewer than nine wins in any season.

In Washington, Smith has an intriguing cast of pass-catchers in Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson. If tight end Jordan Reed could finally stay healthy, Smith would be buffered by talent across all levels of the field.

After signing a 34-year-old quarterback to a big contract, the Redskins are not in a rebuilding mindset.

"He has got to get it down by the first game," Gruden said. "So, I think he is already close to having it down for the most part . . . We are not in here to build the team around him, the team is built and he has to lead it like right now. This isn't a two- or three-year process. This is a one-year process and we have got to win right away."

With a 28-35-1 record in four seasons as the Redskins' coach, Gruden knows the heat is on entering Year 5. He needs Smith in tune from Week 1 to climb up the NFC East standings.

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