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Brian Mitchell: The only way the Redskins can win with Mark Sanchez at QB

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Brian Mitchell: The only way the Redskins can win with Mark Sanchez at QB

Within the span of three weeks, the Redskins have seen two quarterbacks go down with broken legs and are left for the final four games of the season with a quarterback depth chart that reads as follows:

Mark Sanchez

Josh Johnson

But the facts remain. Despite sitting at 6-6, Washington is only a game back in the NFC East race and a half-game back in the NFC Wild Card race. If they’re going to make a playoff push, the veteran Sanchez will have to be the one under center who guides them there.

Can it be done? According to NBC Sports Washington Redskins analyst Brian Mitchell, it’s less about Sanchez himself and more about what’s around him.

“Mark Sanchez, he typifies exactly what I said about quarterbacks. They're the most dependent position in all of sports,” Mitchell said Thursday on Redskins 100. “He's going to need the running game to be damn good. The defense is going to have to get back to what they were, stopping the run and giving them more opportunities with turnovers or they’re not winning the football game. 

“So, yes, they can win with him, but the people around him are going to have to be up there. They can’t play average. They can’t play like they’ve been playing.”

How they’ve “been playing” is all part of a three-game losing streak that has featured that quarterback carousel, a slew of other injuries and a defense that has not played up to the level it had been earlier in the year.

Sanchez now takes the wheel as a starter for the first time since 2015 when he started for Philadelphia in place of an injured Sam Bradford. The Eagles went 0-2 in those games.

On Monday night, Sanchez played decently well in the first half. The road got rockier in the second half and he finished 13-of-21 for 100 yards and had one pass intercepted in relief of Colt McCoy.

The question is if he’ll be able to at least manage the game and give Washington an opportunity to get a much-needed win over the suddenly rejuvenated Giants on Sunday, winners of three of their last four games.

Brian Mitchell is joined on "Redskins Kickoff Live" by Julie Donaldson, Trevor Matich, and DeAngelo Hall one hour before every Redskins game on NBC Sports Washington. This week’s coverage begins Sunday at noon, also streaming on the brand new MyTeams app.

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The Redskins need a QB of the future, but the 2019 Draft class might not have one

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The Redskins need a QB of the future, but the 2019 Draft class might not have one

The Washington Redskins need quarterback help immediately and likely long-term. Street free agents, a fancy way of saying unemployed passers, are the current hope with the season on the verge of collapsing. Get past this season and, while waiting for updates on Alex Smith’s seriously injured leg, we can ponder if the Redskins might solve their issues in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Don’t count on it.

“In a word, questionable,” is how former NFL scout and DraftAnalyzer.com publisher Tony Pauline described the 2019 class to NBC Sports Washington.

The heralded 2018 group headlined by No. 1 overall selection Baker Mayfield saw four quarterbacks selected in the top 10 and five in the first round. The next batch isn’t generating such optimism.

Pauline counts Oregon’s Justin Herbert as the only top-shelf option if the junior enters the draft. Duke’s Daniel Jones also draws a first-round projection from Pauline. ESPN’s Todd McShay updated rankings show Herbert as the only QB among the top 25 overall prospects. Similar lonely projections exist from CBS Sports and DraftTek.com.

Opinions will inevitably evolve during the college bowl games along with draft evaluation events including the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. Probably not enough to have analysts like Pauline shifting stances dramatically.

“Guys that have high upside, guys that can be good quarterbacks at the next level, but some of them are not coming off of good seasons,” Pauline told NBC Sports Washington. “Some of them will need a lot of development more so than the guys from a year ago. If they’re not properly coached, properly developed they’re not going to be good quarterbacks on the next level.”

Because the NFL game puts a premium on quarterbacks, teams tend to gamble, selecting passers higher than their overall class ranking. They also are often more willing to package assets to move up high enough to choose such players. Pauline admits he’s somewhat conservative with QB projections because of the “big bust factor.” He doesn’t see a quarterback he’d make an all-in move for with one possible exception.

“Personally, I think no, but if Justin Herbert enters the draft I can see a team picking in the 9-15 range making a move up to get him because he’s the only one at the top of the draft,” Pauline said.

The Redskins, 6-6 following Monday’s loss in Philadelphia, currently project to have the No. 18 overall selection. Considering the loss of Smith and Colt McCoy to broken legs, its conceivable Washington doesn’t win another game this season, meaning a likely pick in that 9-15 range if not higher.

The 6-foot-6 Herbert threw for 2,985 yards and 28 touchdowns with eight interceptions in the regular season for the Ducks. The mobile makes a final appearance this season in the RedBox Bowl against Michigan State remaining.

“Herbert has elite size and good arm strength,” McShay wrote. “He mixes some zip with touch but tends to stare down his primary target a tad too long. He will be a running threat … and he also has some athleticism. … He has a lot of room for development, including in the decision-making process, but there is talent here. Now it is just a question of whether he will return to Eugene or declare for the draft.”

Jones, also a junior, led Duke to an Independence Bowl bid after passing for 2,251 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Missouri’s Drew Lock and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins (Bullis) are two other quarterbacks Pauline could imagine moving into the first round range by draft day.

“Lock has the physical skills, but he hasn’t a good year. If he plays well at the Senior Bowl, the Senior Bowl can erase a lot of sins at the quarterback position,” Pauline said.

As for Haskins, who must declare for the draft, Pauline said, “I wouldn’t select him in the first round because he doesn’t have a big body of work, but teams love those athletic big arm quarterbacks, and he fits that mold.”

Regarding depth with this QB crop, Pauline doesn’t see much, but states for this position it "comes down to coaching and development."

Other prospects Pauline thinks have a shot in the right place: 

Ryan Finley, North Carolina State – “He has some physical limitations, but he’s a smart game-manager.”

Will Grier, West Virginia – “He has an excellent downfield arm. He’s a guy I think can lead a team, but he’s got some inconsistencies.” (CBS Sports ranks Grier 39th overall.)

Jarrett Stidham, Auburn – “Has physical skills, but coming off a bad season.” Pauline said supporting cast issues might have played a factor in the dip for Stidham, who entered the season with round one potential, “but now doesn’t warrant top 45 consideration.”

The Redskins surely must consider adding a quarterback this offseason. This just happens to be one of those years without many options.

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Finlay: Colin Kaepernick 'best of the available options' as Redskins look to sign QB

Finlay: Colin Kaepernick 'best of the available options' as Redskins look to sign QB

Washington worked out a group of quarterbacks following the season-ending injury Alex Smith suffered against Houston on Nov. 18 and ultimately settled on signing veteran Mark Sanchez.

It was then Sanchez who had to relieve the injured Colt McCoy in Monday night's 28-13 loss to Philadelphia after McCoy broke his leg in the first half and is now reportedly also lost for the season.

So the quarterback discussion resurfaces for Washington, again with one prominent name at the top of the list of possibilities.

“Obviously the biggest name is going to be Colin Kaepernick. It was discussed two weeks ago. It’s going to get discussed again now,” NBC Sports Redskins Insider JP Finlay said on Redskins Postgame Live Monday night.

“I don’t know. I think when you were bringing somebody in to back up Colt and Colt is your guy to give you a chance to keep this ship moving forward and maybe sneak into the playoffs, Kaepernick didn’t make sense. I’m not sure Kaepernick doesn’t make sense now.

“He’s the best of the available options and he’s probably better than the guy you have going. He hasn’t been in the NFL, hasn’t been in practice, hasn’t been in a game in some time. There’s a lot more to that equation. There’s a lawsuit against the NFL. There’s reported interest that the Redskins would never bring him in. There’s all sorts of things, but I think now the Colin Kaepernick discussion should at least be had.”

National attention has been focused on Kaepernick since 2016 after he took a prominent role in pregame demonstrations during the national anthem in support of social justice.

He last played in the NFL during the 2016 season when he started 11 games for the San Francisco 49ers. During that time, he completed 59.2 percent of his passes to go along with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions.

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