- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

And then there were two.

The Cleveland Browns’ signing of Robert Griffin III last week marked the end of the three-quarterback drama the Washington Redskins produced over the past two seasons.

Griffin, Kirk Cousins and yes, Colt McCoy all started games over 2014 and 2015 and were all in play as the No. 1 quarterback at one point or another.

Remember, the only one of the three who was not benched for performance was McCoy, who after being named the starter at the end of November 2014, was hurt in a game against the St. Louis Rams. After starting and leaving a game the following week against the New York Giants, he was done for the season.

Now it is just Cousins and McCoy — and, of the two, the only who had the chance to leave was McCoy. Cousins was given the franchise tag by the Redskins and not given the opportunity to leave if he had chosen. He will be paid well for his lack of freedom.

McCoy, though, could have been free of the Redskins. He chose to stay and be the backup quarterback.

That’s no small signal for Redskins fans. It means a guy who has seen his share of NFL dysfunction and drama since he entered the league in 2010, drafted by the Browns in the third round, decided that Redskins Park had become a place of stability and security.

“I believe in what our team is doing, with Bruce [Allen], Scot [McCloughan], Jay [Gruden] and Dan [Snyder],” McCoy said, referring to the Redskins’ president, general manager, coach and owner. “I talked to all of them this spring before signing, and it just felt right.

“I have confidence in the way this team is being run now. Offensively, this is tailor-made for me and what I could accomplish on the field. I feel we are going in the right direction. I think we have a chance to do something special. I think we saw a little bit of it last year winning the NFC East. I’m excited about this year, coming back, and being part of the Redskins organization.”

McCoy signed a three-year, $9 million deal with Washington earlier this month that reportedly includes a $1.8 million signing bonus for 2016 and other bonuses throughout the contract. He said he had other offers, but chose to stay.

“I had other options,” McCoy said. “I could have gone several other places — much more options this year than last year. So, I had to make some decisions about what I wanted to do. Being back just felt right.”

McCoy, 29, entering his seventh NFL season, recently wrote about his career for the website The Players’ Tribune, trying to make the case for both his desire to be a starting quarterback and his decision to return to Washington to be a backup.

“I still see a starting job for me someday,” McCoy said. “I wouldn’t be coming back to play if I didn’t feel I could still offer a lot to a team and start in this league. It is something that I want to do again. I tried to explain this in the article. It is not like it just happens overnight again.

“The things I went through in Cleveland, it’s all about just climbing back up the ladder to get that opportunity again,” he said. “I felt like this is the best place for me to be part of something special and work my way back toward being a starter. In this system, with these coaches and this team, it just feels right. We’ll just have to see how this plays out. I feel like I’m doing everything I can as far as preparing and training to be ready if the opportunity presents itself to step in and do good things for my team.”

These are lessons that the quarterback who is gone would be well served to learn.

McCoy found himself in the middle of, according to some reports, a tense situation between Cousins and Griffin. Unlike Cousins, who backed away from those reports and told ESPN that he and Griffin had a “good” relationship and that Griffin “was able to be a big help to me,” McCoy addressed it perhaps more truthfully and intelligently.

“You have a room with three guys who all believe they can play,” he said. “I like that, because then it is a competitive environment and you are all pushing each other to be the best and to win the job and do good for your team.

“Now, there can also be a situation where it could be tough.” McCoy said. “Some days it could be challenging at times, and some days it could be great. It was really unique the way it happened. It was hard. It was hard on me. It was a hard thing to do. I respect the way Robert handled himself last year. That was a tough environment. I really hope he can be who he wants to be.”

For Griffin’s sake, hopefully he learned a few lessons from 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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