- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s hard to believe that a team that went 4-12 will be bringing back all three quarterbacks from that disastrous season, but that’s what the Washington Redskins are doing.

Please note, though, that only one of the three did new general manager Scot McCloughan invite to the party.

The Redskins are stuck with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. They remain under contract. Of course, either of them could be traded or cut, but they don’t seem compelled at this point to do so — unless somehow Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is still available when Washington picks at No. 5 in the NFL draft.

If that happens, one of those two will have a new address.

But Colt McCoy was invited back. He was a free agent at the end of the season, and McCloughan, who had no connection with McCoy, offered the quarterback a contract to return to the Redskins.

“I don’t have any ties with any of the players,” McCloughan told reporters at the owners’ meetings in Phoenix this week. “I didn’t draft them, besides the ones I signed in free agency, so I’m coming in here saying, ‘Prove it to me. Prove to me that you deserve to be on the field,’ and that’s the way it has to be in the NFL.”

Granted, NFL teams weren’t knocking down McCoy’s door for his services in a thin quarterback market, and granted, the Redskins likely are not paying McCoy a lot of money.

But the fact is that right now, of the three quarterbacks, the only one we really know if McCloughan really likes or not is McCoy.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden, also speaking at the owners’ meetings, told reporters that while Griffin — who he proclaimed at the NFL combine last month would be the starting quarterback going into the season in what appeared to be a hostage-like statement — would get the first-team snaps in OTAs and mini-camp, the second-team snaps would be divided between Cousins and McCoy.

Remember, McCoy, signed last April as an afterthought, went into last season as the third-string clipboard holder.

That tells you that Gruden likes McCoy — in case you forgot that from last year — and may still be sour on Cousins, who went 0-4 as a starter last year with 10 interceptions after Griffin dislocated his left ankle in Week 2. Cousins lost the job to McCoy at halftime in the Tennessee game in Week 7 and never saw the field again.

McCoy engineered a comeback win over the Titans in the second half, and, in the highlight of the dismal season, led the Redskins to an upset win on “Monday Night Football” over the Cowboys in Dallas. The following week, Griffin returned as the starter, only to lose the job to McCoy in Week 11 after going 0-3 during that stretch.

We know what Gruden thinks of Griffin. Despite the statement of support, not much has changed yet from his description of the former Heisman Trophy winner from last year, when the coach declared, following a 27-7 loss to Tampa, that, “From his basic performance just critiquing Robert, it’s not even close to good enough to what we expect from the quarterback position.”

Here’s what we heard from Gruden about McCoy: “We have a guy behind him [Griffin] that played pretty well.”

And this: “He’s very, very smart. He’s been in this system before — West Coast-type system — so he’s familiar with a lot of the pass concepts.”

The fact is that of the three Redskins quarterbacks, only one — McCoy — didn’t lose the starting job last year because of performance.

McCoy, 28, appeared in five games, completing 91 of 128 passes (71.7 percent) for 1,057 yards, with four touchdown passes, three interceptions and a team-high passer rating of 96.4. He would go down with a neck injury during a 24-0 loss to the St. Louis Rams, and Griffin finished out the season.

In five NFL seasons, McCoy — a star quarterback coming out of Texas in 2010 — has played in 33 games, 25 as a starter, and completed 501 of 831 passes, a 60.3 percent completion rate. He has been the definition of a “journeyman” quarterback, now with his third team.

But along the way, something happened to McCoy that he verbalized last year after leading Washington to the 19-17 win over Tennessee, a lesson that Griffin has yet to learn.

“This league is very unforgiving, and I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to still be able to play,” McCoy said, with his eyes welling up.
That is a coach’s quarterback.

In the end, if Gruden is not won over by either Griffin or Cousins, he may do what coaches do — go with the guy he is most comfortable with.
We may have forgotten that the guy Jay Gruden was most comfortable with last season was Colt McCoy.

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.


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