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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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Josh Norman and D.J. Swearinger swing between silent and opinionated following Redskins' fourth consecutive loss

Josh Norman and D.J. Swearinger swing between silent and opinionated following Redskins' fourth consecutive loss

FEDEX FIELD -- The New York Giants didn’t just clobber the Washington Redskins 40-16. They briefly silenced Josh Norman and D.J. Swearinger. 

The talkative defensive backs separately passed on answering questions in the postgame locker room, a combination of events as rare as Washington trailing by 40 points at home. 

They didn't remain quiet for long. Stinging opinions eventually followed on what went down during their most lopsided setbacks in recent memory, and the Redskins’ four-game losing streak.

Both declined to comment to similar questions about the Redskins’ readiness entering a pivotal late-season contest.

In response to a query over whether he felt the team was ready to go at kickoff, Norman offered a “No comment."

The first question to Swearinger, a frequent critic of the team’s practice habits during his two seasons with the team, focused on comments moments earlier from his head coach. During his press conference, Jay Gruden said Sunday’s result was not indicative of the team’s week of practice.

After brief and silent contemplation, Swearinger answered, “No comment.”

Two of the league's greatest quotes passing on answering questions. The universe now officially makes no sense. 

The situation didn’t silence all of their takes.

The second question to Swearinger involved what’s gone wrong for the defense in recent weeks after a strong start to the season. "We just didn't execute. We just didn’t execute. We didn't get the job done. That's the answer they want me to give."

Norman, on what went wrong in the game: “Everything.”

Swearinger, on what changes are needed defensively. “I’ve been saying that for two years, man. Obviously, they didn’t listen. I can’t tell you what needs to change. I’m not the coach.”

Norman, on where he thought the game went off the rails: “You saw the game,” he responded.

Swearinger on whether he felt the game slip away in the first quarter when New York opened the scoring with an interception return for a touchdown: “Somewhat, somewhat, somewhat, but as a defender, you have to try to stop them, and we didn’t do a good job.”

Both players were part of a defense that surrendered three touchdown passes in the loss. Norman was also asked about the team’s mindset following the defeat. “We got took behind the barn like my grandma would do,” Norman said. “Had one of those big, thick paddles and got put to the backside pretty good.”

It’s understandable that the current slide, one that dropped Washington from 6-3 and a two-game lead in the NFC East to a losing record four weeks later, left the defensive leaders flummoxed.   

Washington’s run defense ranked among the league’s best through seven weeks, allowing an average of 70.7 yards on the ground. Only two opponents topped 100 yards in a single game. Over the next six games, the Redskins allowed each team to reach the century mark for an average of 150 rush yards.

“Can’t say it’s the players,” Swearinger said on the topic of the plummeting run defense. “We’re the same players. We’re the same guys. We’ve put in the same work. We’re practicing hard. I’m speaking for my (fellow defensive) players. We’re practicing hard. … I can’t give you no answers to that because I’m not the coach, but I know we’re trying to do what we need to do on defense as players. We’re trying. We’re trying hard.”

Through the frustration, both proud players passed on declaring the season over despite the dire projections with three games remaining and the losses piling up.

Josh Johnson, signed by the Redskins Wednesday, played in the second half Sunday and will start next week at Jacksonville. The Redskins then face Tennessee before a Week 17 home finale against Philadelphia. They likely must win all three games for any hopes of a playoff berth.

Swearinger admitted it’s not easy remaining positive, but he had no intention of flipping to the dark side.

“I’m going to keep grinding,” Swearinger said. “I’m blessed to play football. I’m blessed to be a Washington Redskin. I’m going to approach this thing like a pro. Positive attitude, Get ready to beat Jacksonville if we can.”

Staying mentally positive is one thing. Flipping the momentum that way is quite another.

“Hell I don’t know,” Norman said. “Come to work Monday and find out. It sucks. Trying to keep my emotions intact. I really am.”

Like Swearinger, Norman has no intention of folding with games remaining.

“We fight. We’re warriors. We go out there, and we try to win, try to put ourselves in position to be successful,” Norman said. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work out in our favor. That’s the cards we’ve been dealt right now. Got to play it and hopefully, we’ll catch a full house one of these times.”


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What's the state of the Redskins locker room? DeAngelo Hall not sure if it's 'lost'

What's the state of the Redskins locker room? DeAngelo Hall not sure if it's 'lost'

The Redskins were thoroughly embarrassed in a 40-16 loss to the Giants on Sunday - a game that looked worse for most of it than the final score shows. So is it over? Is the locker room lost? Former Redskins player DeAngelo Hall spoke about that possibility on NBC Sports Washington's Redskins Postgame Live. 

"I don't want to say the locker room's lost," Hall said, "but having played in this league when you know you have a guy at quarterback in Mark Sanchez who is going out there to lead you and you know there's other guys available you probably could have had a chance to get.

And you go with that guy, you basically say huh, here you go. 

Some guys look at that like 'oh man we ain't got a chance in hell, why am I out here? And then some guys don't care what's going on. We used to get turnovers, three and out every other series, who cares? Let's go. Let's go fight. It's a mindset."

Redskins coach Jay Gruden told reporters after the game he didn't think his team quit.

And as for quarterback help, this might not be exactly what Hall was talking about, but they will get Josh Johnson as the starter next week according to Gruden.