Garrett Gilbert was signed just four days before he took the field on Tuesday night in Philadelphia as the Washington Football Team's emergency solution at quarterback during its COVID-19 breakout. He found out he was going to start just hours before kickoff. Safe to say, he had quite the week.
“Little bit of a whirlwind. Less than ideal circumstances for all the guys in there,” Gilbert said after the 27-17 loss. “But speaking for the offense I was really proud of the way everyone fought tonight. Didn't get the result we wanted. It's tough. Every win is important this time of year. But I was really proud of our group for fighting through everything that we faced this week and giving ourselves a chance.”
Under the circumstances, Gilbert did as well as anyone could’ve realistically hoped. He delivered a performance of 194 passing yards, a 64.5% completion rate, and a quarterback rating of 81.9. Washington's top two quarterbacks—Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen—were both unable to suit up on Tuesday after landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list along with over a dozen other teammates leaving Gilbert the next man up after he was signed off the New England Patriots' practice squad. He made do.
“Most of the guys I met less than 72 hours ago and there was a good level of comfort and communication in the huddle,” Gilbert said. “And that's a testament to the way all those guys prepared and took on a little bit extra this week in terms of their role in the game plan and understanding things aren't going to be perfect. I'm proud of those guys.”
Gilbert, 30, made just his second career start on Tuesday, the first coming last year as a member of the Dallas Cowboys last season. Under tremendous pressure, he was able to find open receivers and even dish out some impressive balls like this one, which Adam Humphries ultimately couldn’t hang onto in the end zone:
But Washington’s precarious position on Tuesday wasn’t aided by the team’s shorthanded defense, which allowed Philadelphia 519 total yards, including an astonishing 238 yards on the ground. Gilbert was able to deliver on the other end of the ball, at least giving the Burgundy and Gold a fighting shot at a big division win.
“I felt really good about the position we put ourselves in,” Gilbert said. “I just didn't make enough plays for us in the end. I thought those guys did a heck of job being in the right spots, talking on the sideline about the things we were seeing and making some adjustments. We really fought there and did some good things. We just didn't make enough plays.”
There’s no telling what might happen to Washington’s quarterback room going forward or Gilbert in particular going forward. Heinicke and Allen remain on the COVID list and preparations must begin immediately for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. It's unclear if either player will be cleared for practice Wednesday. Gilbert couldn't afford to worry about that in the aftermath of the Philadelphia loss. He only took assessment of his immediate future.
“We’ll have to get back home, take a look at the film and see what we can learn from as a team,” Gilbert said. “As for me personally, we’ll see what happens.”