- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2014

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — In a hallway outside the visiting locker room, Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy was asked about the frustration of leaving Sunday’s 24-13 loss to the New York Giants after only 12 snaps. He didn’t respond.

Over the course of his brief career, McCoy had waited patiently for opportunities like the one that presented itself in the final weeks of this season. Since being benched in Cleveland two years ago, he had craved a chance to start again, to show that he could entrench himself in that role. This was supposed to be that chance.

But as McCoy stood in the hallway, pondering another start that had ended too early because of injury, he couldn’t muster the words to describe it. Instead, he reached for the handle of his roll-along suitcase and slammed it down four times, silent as he moved.

Then, still quiet, McCoy walked away.

The 28-year-old journeyman had been limited in practice all week because of a pinched nerve in his neck, the result of a sack in last week’s loss to the St. Louis Rams. As he warmed up on the field Sunday morning, the question was no longer whether he would play against the Giants, but for how long. And the answer came almost immediately.

McCoy was walloped on a scramble up the middle during the team’s first drive and replaced by Robert Griffin III, the one-time franchise savior who was benched by coach Jay Gruden on Nov. 26. Griffin finished the remainder of the game, completing 18 of 27 passes for 236 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for 46 yards on five attempts, including a 23-yard scamper.


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McCoy’s lost opportunity was Griffin’s gain. For Gruden, it all translates to another week of uncertainty at quarterback.

“We’ve just got to look at the film and see where we stand,” Gruden said. “See what the deal is with Colt’s neck, and obviously that takes priority. We’ve got to get that thing checked out and make sure he’s right before attempts to come back again. But Robert’s definitely in the mix.”

Griffin completed each of his first six passes for 75 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown to running back Chris Thompson, but tailed off as the game wore on. He showed flashes of mobility and decisiveness but also signs of the same recurring issues that resulted in his benching: holding onto the ball too long, scrambling unnecessarily and missing open receivers.

Despite those shortcomings, Griffin at times looked like a former version of himself, the rookie of the year quarterback who guided the Redskins to an NFC East title in 2012. He flew head-first toward the goal line at the end of the first half, diving for the pylon on a touchdown that was later reversed upon a video review. He also exhibited a sort of confidence and comfort he had appeared to lack in recent weeks.

“You know, you just have to get out there and have fun,” Griffin said after the game, in what were his most expansive public comments since being benched. “Over the past couple weeks or so, with what happened, I’ve been able to get back to having fun and playing the game of football the way I know how. I think guys respond to that. You have to be yourself.”

After Griffin’s touchdown pass, which gave the Redskins a 10-7 lead, the third-year quarterback even shared a smile with Gruden on the sideline. The coach, however, was calculated in his praise.

“He played OK,” Gruden said. “You know, based on what I saw on the field, I don’t know. I need to check out the film. Obviously the second half was unfortunate and [we had] protection issues. We’ll just have to check it out, but I thought he came in and competed, and that’s half the battle right there.”

While there were concerns about McCoy’s neck before the game, Griffin was not expecting to play Sunday, especially so early in the first quarter. It was yet another change in a season in which the Redskins have cycled through three quarterbacks at various points, sometimes due to injury and other times due to production.

Sunday marked the fourth time this season Washington has switched quarterbacks in the middle of a game.

“You have to be able to adjust and adapt, no matter who you play with,” running back Alfred Morris said. “We played with Robert before, we played with Colt before, we played with Kirk before. No matter who’s in there, we’ve just got to know personnel and know who’s coming in and adjust a little bit.”

As the Redskins tried to find their offensive footing, McCoy watched from the sidelines with a heavy burgundy coat thrown over his jersey and shoulder pads. He’s unsure whether he’ll be able to play Saturday against the Philadelphia Eagles, or the following week against Dallas. He doesn’t know if another opportunity will present itself this season, or if his chances of starting in Washington left when he walked off the field Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

“We’ll see what my options are this week,” McCoy said. “We’ll see.”

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