- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2014

Nearly the entirety of this season has been about development and progress for Robert Griffin III. The Washington Redskins are hoping he can continue to show both on Saturday.

Griffin will once again step in as the starting quarterback for the Redskins‘ game against the Philadelphia Eagles, coach Jay Gruden announced Monday, after Colt McCoy has been unable to completely recover from a neck injury.

McCoy, who started the last three games for the Redskins, played only a dozen snaps in the 24-13 road loss to the New York Giants on Sunday because of a pinched nerve in his neck.

It’ll be the fifth time the Redskins have changed their starting quarterback this season. After Griffin dislocated his left ankle on Sept. 14, they first turned to Kirk Cousins, then went from Cousins to McCoy, McCoy to Griffin, Griffin to McCoy and, again, McCoy to Griffin.

“Moving forward, this is Robert’s team right now against the Philadelphia Eagles,” Gruden said. “How the team plays around him, hopefully it’ll be very well, and how we coach and how we prepare him to get ready — hopefully, we’ll have a good game plan for him to give him a chance to succeed and win.”

It’s a reluctant move for Gruden, who committed to McCoy as his starting quarterback on Nov. 26 and pushed Griffin to the bench after three ineffective outings.

McCoy, originally injured late in the 24-0 loss to St. Louis on Dec. 7, visited a number of doctors and specialists last week to try to prepare him to play against the Giants, and he received final medical clearance on Friday.

He lasted just a dozen snaps, taking a clubbing from Giants middle linebacker Jameel McClain on a 4-yard scramble with 7:37 to play in the first quarter. On the next play, he threw a ball to Pierre Garçon that was three yards short of the wide receiver — a play that alerted him, and his coaches, that something was wrong.

The quarterback was at a loss for words after the game when attempting to describe the injury, clarifying that there are no structural issues and that there is no lingering pain in his neck or right shoulder.

“It’s just aggravated enough right now from last week that it kind of locks everything up in there, and that’s why I came inside — to see if there was anything we could do to help that out,” McCoy said. “Maybe it helped a little bit, but it just wasn’t right.”

Griffin played the final 58 snaps, completing 18 of 27 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown. He also ran five times for 46 yards, and a review just before halftime negated a potential touchdown run, which would have been his first since the final game of the 2012 season.

For as effective as he was in the first half, however, Griffin struggled in the second. The Redskins gained just 107 of their 372 yards after halftime, and the play-action and bootleg game that worked so well early was better defended by New York in the second half.

Robert competed in the first half, did some good things,” Gruden said Monday. “Obviously, we didn’t do so well in the second half as a group offensively but, you know, I was pleased with the way Robert competed, and hopefully, we can build on that going on into next week.”

Griffin was benched by Gruden late last month after he played poorly in the three games following his return from injury on Nov. 2. Inconsistent and, at times, plagued by elementary mistakes, Griffin will need a strong performance in each of the Redskins‘ final two games — Saturday, and then on Dec. 28 at home against Dallas — to solidify his role heading into next season.

With McCoy almost certain to be unavailable to play against Philadelphia, Cousins, who replaced Griffin against the Jaguars and started five games, will be Griffin’s backup. McCoy will undergo additional medical testing this week, Gruden said, in an attempt to clarify the extent of the injury to his neck.

Cousins, who has not played since being replaced by McCoy at halftime of an Oct. 19 victory over Tennessee, was almost active on Sunday, Gruden said. Because of McCoy’s health, the coach contemplated giving all three quarterbacks the ability to play, but instead decided not to ask Cousins to dress for the game.

Remarkably, despite all the changeover between the three quarterbacks, the Redskins could conceivably end the season exactly where they started: With Griffin the starter, Cousins the backup and McCoy on the bench.

“You want somebody to take the position and play and have success, obviously,” Gruden said. “But unfortunately, Robert got hurt early, Kirk had turnover issues and Colt took an opportunity and ran with it and did well — and then Colt got the injury.

“Now we’re back to Robert. I have nothing against all three. I think all three quarterbacks have a good future. I just want somebody to take the position and run with it, and hopefully, we’ll see something like that this week with Robert.”

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