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.
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?