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Is McCoy the answer at backup QB for the Redskins?


Is McCoy the answer at backup QB for the Redskins?

In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.

In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

No. 1

Who should be the backup quarterback in 2016?

El-Bashir: Before I get to my answer, I'd like to point out how refreshing it is to be discussing the backup quarterback and not the starter in January. It's impossible to understate the importance of entering an offseason with the two most important pieces—head coach and starting quarterback—in place and secure in their roles. Because of that, the Redskins are already miles ahead of where they were at this point last year.

Anyway, back to the question at hand. I believe Colt McCoy is the perfect backup for the Redskins and, if the player and the team are smart about it, they’ll come to an agreement on an extension. From all appearances, he’s got a good relationship with Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins. He's also got a strong grasp of the system after spending the past two seasons in Washington and, just as important, he didn’t create any waves after the disappointment of getting beat out by Cousins for a starting job he didn’t know was even up for grabs last preseason.     

In 2014, McCoy proved he be effective in a pinch. He came off the bench to lead Washington to a win over Tennessee and, a week later, directed a 2-5 Redskins’ team to an enormous upset in Big D on Monday Night Football. In 2015, though, he played a much smaller role. In fact, McCoy appeared in only two games and played only 46 snaps.

Which brings me to my next point: McCoy is the Redskins’ best option, but it takes both sides to strike a deal. With Cousins having locked up the starting job and likely to sign a mega-deal in the coming months, the Redskins’ other quarterback (s) in 2016 probably won’t play much, except for in mop-up situations or in the unlikely event that a sturdy and reliable Cousins gets hurt.

Is McCoy ready to embrace that role? I don’t know. That’s up to McCoy. If he still believes that, at 29, he can be more than a backup for someone, I’d imagine he’ll want one last kick at the can. And there’s no shortage of teams with question marks at quarterback. To me, though, the smart move for both McCoy and the Redskins is to get a deal done…even if it means paying a bit above average money for a backup.

Tandler: The best solution for a backup quarterback for the 2016 Redskins may well be to re-sign Colt McCoy. He will be 30 before the season starts, he knows the offense and he is already a well-respected presence in the locker room. But they many not be able to do that.

McCoy is slated to be a free agent on March 9. He might figure that he has one last chance to be a starting quarterback in NFL and he knows it won’t be in Washington, where Kirk Cousins will be the man and he has proven to be very durable. So if he goes off seeking greener pastures in Cleveland or Houston or perhaps even Dallas to back up the fragile Tony Romo, the Redskins will be looking for a new backup quarterback and with the inevitable departure of Robert Griffin III they may be looking for two.

The free agent market for potential backups is the usual collection of has beens and never-weres. Just to throw out a name of someone in the former category, Matt Schaub of the Ravens could be a good fit. He’s certainly not an ideal option if you need someone for more than a couple of games, but neither is McCoy.

If the organization wants a younger quarterback instead of or in addition to a veteran, they could grab one later on in the draft. One player I’ll have my eye on is Kevin Hogan, who is a 6-4 redshirt senior out of Stanford. He’s a local product, from McLean and a graduate of Gonzaga. Stanford, of course, runs a pro style offense and he shouldn’t have much trouble picking up the Redskins’ system. Hogan should be available in the latter rounds of the draft.

To answer the question, I think the Redskins will stick with three quarterbacks with either McCoy or someone like Schaub as the backup and a Saturday draft pick as a developmental QB.

25 Questions series

  • Today: Is McCoy the answer at backup QB for the Redskins?
  • Tomorrow: Should the Redskins try to keep Alfred Morris?

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it