Jay Gruden’s decision to rest Kirk Cousins and several other key starters for tonight’s preseason game against the Jets was not a part of any sort of long-term strategic plan. In fact, he just decided to do it this morning.
“We have a lot of good players in this locker room and I wanted to make sure our backups were ready to play at all times,” said Gruden. “We had a lot of our backups step up into starting roles last year and I thought it was important for Colt McCoy, who played quarterback for the first half] to get some quality work against a quality defense, along with some of the other guys that played, in first-team roles.”
Gruden may have made the decision some 12 hours prior to kickoff but he didn’t let many of the players affected by the change know until much later.
McCoy, for example, said that he was told he would be starting “in the tunnel” during pregame. He said that it was like simulating a real-life situation since backup quarterbacks rarely get much notice that they need to come into a game and perform.
On the defensive side of the ball, Martrell Spaight played Mike linebacker as Will Compton sat the game out. Greg Toler and Quinton Dunbar started at cornerback.
“I wanted to see Spaight play with the ones and against a good offense in the New York Jets,” said Gruden. “I wanted to see Dunbar play against [Jets receiver] Brandon Marshall and some of those guys from the Jets.
“These guys really showed up in practice. I wanted to see how they did agains a heck of a unit like the New York Jets. They showed up and played extremely well.”
The front-line players who sat out tonight will make up for some of the lost time next week in the third, “dress rehearsal” preseason game against the Bills.
“We’re going to play them a lot next week,” said Gruden. “We’re going to treat Buffalo very seriously and prepare . . . We’ll get some good work next week.”