New WFT QB Gilbert needed to 'make fast friends' in hectic day


Garrett Gilbert was giving his daughter a bath on Thursday night and mentally readying himself to travel to Indianapolis along with the rest of his Patriots teammates for Saturday's matchup with the Colts. 

Then his wife came in, passed over his phone with about "25 missed calls and text messages" and realized his future plans were about to change.

"I guess I was ignoring some people," Garrett, who's now on the Washington Football Team after Taylor Heinicke was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, told reporters on Friday.

After realizing that he was being plucked off of New England's practice squad and joining Washington's active roster, Gilbert got on a plane and landed in the area just before midnight Thursday.

The following morning, he was donning a yellow No. 19 jersey in Ashburn, Va. and doing what he could to grow acclimated with his new surroundings.

"I tried to introduce myself to as many guys on the offense as I could today and make fast friends with the offensive linemen, of course," he said.

During the portion of Friday's practice that was open to the media, Gilbert went ahead of Kyle Shurmur and Jordan Ta'amu (the club's other two signal callers) during individual drills and was the only passer to participate in the offense's red zone work.

Afterward, Ron Rivera declined to name a starter for the upcoming game versus the Eagles — which is reportedly being moved to Tuesday evening — but did explain why he made a point of acquiring Gilbert.


"He gives us options, another guy that knows the system and can play in the system," Rivera said. "He's a guy we have some confidence in moving forward with."

Gilbert has been a part of plenty of franchises since turning pro in 2014, and conveniently enough, one of his stops came in Carolina with Rivera.

Gilbert was a Panther from March of 2017 to December of 2018 and overlapped with Heinicke and Kyle Allen there, in addition to Rivera and coordinator Scott Turner.

Combine that familiarity with the fact that Gilbert's at least started once in the NFL — he threw 38 passes for the Cowboys last year in a tilt with the Steelers — and it sure seems like he'd get the nod over Shurmur and Ta'amu if one of the more preferred choices isn't cleared by kickoff.

"That was a great experience," Gilbert said of the action he saw in 2020 with Dallas. "It was under, I wouldn't say the same circumstances, but somewhat similar in that I had only been there a couple of weeks and was thrust in."

In his presser, which occurred before the Philly postponement news broke, Rivera indicated that he and his staff would take the rest of Friday as well as some of Saturday to further evaluate the quarterback depth chart. 

"We've got to focus on preparing," Rivera said.

Part of that prep will include catching Gilbert up as much as possible, as Washington finds itself in a spot that is as unenviable as unenviable gets: Potentially having to rely on a who-knows-what-number-string, just-signed QB in a meaningful December contest. The new date could eliminate the need for Gilbert in the lineup, sure, but it's too early to arrive to that conclusion.

So, like the rest of Rivera's players and coaches, Gilbert is just doing what he can to fixate on the positive aspects of his situation.

"Moving around so much and being on so many teams, one positive to that is that I've been able to pick up little things here and there," Gilbert said. "Learning from my start last year in Dallas, I've gotten to learn from a ton of veteran guys all over the place... I got to start in the AAF for eight games and gather some invaluable experience there, then going back up to New England and learning some more from Josh [McDaniels] and Brian Hoyer and being in that system again."

All that bouncing around has taught Gilbert the importance of communication and being able to adjust on the fly "because not everything's going to be perfect and 100 percent smooth."

And with that statement right there, he hit on something that he and the team he's just beginning to know can agree on.