- - Thursday, July 27, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There is only one quarterback on the Washington Redskins roster who actually chose to be here.

Colt McCoy chose to come here in 2014 to be a backup behind Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins when he had other opportunities. And when he had a chance to leave in 2016 as a free agent, McCoy chose to stay with the Redskins, signing a three-year $9 million contract, with a $1.8 million signing bonus.

That’s not Kirk Cousins $24 million franchise tag money — but then again, there is no doubt about Colt McCoy wanting to play for the Washington Redskins.

He loves it here — absolutely loves it, even though, as a backup to Cousins, who has proven to be a durable quarterback, it’s unlikely McCoy, who will turn 30 on Sept. 5, will get on the field this year.

“To be honest, the way I feel about the situation in D.C. with Jay the last three years and with (Sean) McVay and the type of system that we run, it fits my skill set as good as any other offense I’ve been and I feel confident in that,” McCoy said in our conversation on the latest “Cigars & Curveballs” podcast, available on the Washington Times website. “I feel confident with the group of guys on our team and the people who are calling the shots above us the front office, I feel very confident in what we’re doing as a football team

“After eight years in the league that is one of the most important things,” McCoy said.

Will he miss play-caller Sean McVay, who left to be head coach for the Los Angeles Rams?

“Sure I’ll miss Sean,” McCoy said. “Sean is great. He is so bright when it comes to football as far as understanding when to call what plays, how to create matchups. But you know what — he learned most of that from Jay. The fact that Jay is calling place now and he’ll kind of get back into his groove, I am fired up. I don’t think we are going to miss a beat.”

He will miss someone else — Scot McCloughan. McCoy, like most Redskins players, admired the former general manager.

“I love Scot,” McCoy said. “You look at what Scot did in two years with us with the Redskins. I thought he did an awesome job. Personally I never had any issues with Scot. I thought he was a great guy. I had lots of wonderful conversations with him. He is a competitor just like me…we got along fine from Day 1.

“Was I surprised that they let go of Scot?” McCoy said. “Yes I think we all were a little bit. I didn’t know anything that was going on but again that’s none of my business the things that go on above me. That’s above my pay grade. I am paid to play football. I think that if you ask anybody in the locker room I think there was everyone was probably caught off guard a little bit. Again I don’t know the details, I don’t know what went on up there but we have to go out and play football. We have to go out and win games. That’s what we are paid to do. I prepare and train as a player to do that and hope that the front office feels the same way. I have to trust that as a player.”

McCoy’s concentration extends to the controversy surrounding the contract of the quarterback he backs up.

“I don’t think Kirk;s contract situation came up in conversation for a minute in the entire spring in the locker room,” he said. “That is Kirk’s business and that is none of our business. Kirk made his decision what he wanted to do what he chose to do.

“I don’t know if everyone has certain feelings about it or not,” he said. “Kirk is coming back, he is our starter and he’s going to be ready to play just like we all are. I think generally the mindset for a player is do not let your contract in the back of your mind all the time. I’m just going to go to my job if I think about that too much that could get in the way maybe of my focus or my attention to detail of my job. At least that’s how I approach it.”

Make no mistake about it — McCoy would like to be the starter, and believes he will be someday, either with Washington or elsewhere. But even when he talks about being a starter, he raves about this organization and their prospects this season.

“Do I want to play?” McCoy said. “Of course. We all want to play. I think that will happen at some point whether here or somewhere else. But right now going into year eight I am happy with where I am at and looking forward to a great year. We had a really solid spring. I think the expectations maybe outside of our building aren’t very high, but I know inside and the way the guys in the locker room feel that our expectations are set pretty high.”

How can anyone be so happy to be the backup quarterback for the Washington Redskins — an organization engulfed by the aura of self destruction?

Well, things could always be worse.

McCoy was once one of the most heralded quarterbacks coming out of college, holding nearly every passing record at the University of Texas. Then came a devastating shoulder injury in the 2009 national championship game that nearly ended his football career.

“I was injured pretty bad and I didn’t know if I was even going to get drafted anymore,” McCoy said. “There was a chance I wasn’t ever going to be able to play again. It was a nerve injury. I had no feeling in my arm. I didn’t do anything at the combine. I had a pro day but I didn’t throw over 30 yards. I wasn’t healthy. I knew that going into that wherever I got drafted if I was lucky enough that I wasn’t going to be able to play that first year because I was in bad shape. I needed time to get healthy

“Cleveland took a flyer on me in the third round,” he said. “Then a couple of quarterback get hurt and I’m playing. No excuses on my part but I wasn’t healthy like I am now. I was struggling with my shoulder — it was a tough, tough time the first three or four years of my NFL career.

“I got to San Francisco and got back on my feet and then I had an opportunity to pick where I wanted to go after that,” McCoy said. “Once I came to D.C all the stars kind of aligned for me.

How did McCoy arrive in Washington?

“When I was coming out of college I spent some time with Bruce Allen,” he said. “He had told (Texas) coach (Mack) Brown that he was a fan. Fast forward to coming out of San Francisco. Bruce reached out to my agent and said, ‘Look we have two great quarterbacks here in Robert and Kirk but if Colt wants to come here we would love to have him.’ Bruce knew I had a couple of other options on the table to go to other places.

“I came for a visit, spent the day with Jay — we talked about his system,” McCoy said. “I had played in Cleveland when he was in Cincinnati and I always put up a really good numbers and played well against Cincinnati. After spending time with Jay I just felt it was the right situation and a place for me to learn the system. I knew he was going to carry three quarterbacks. I just felt like it could be a place that would be right for me to get back on my feet as opposed to going somewhere else and competing for a job and being on a bad team again. I just didn’t want to do that at that time.”

Then came his opportunity on a Sunday afternoon in October 2014 at FedEx Field, with the Redskins facing a 1-6 start in Gruden’s first year, McCoy was called upon to come in the second half to save the franchise — a 19-17 comeback win over Tennessee after Cousins was benched at halftime. McCoy completed 11 of 12 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown.

“The Tennessee game was a special moment for me because, as you can imagine, the amount of frustration I had had since coming out of college and being injured…I don’t think people realize the extent of the injury that I had and the things I had to go through to get back to being healthy.

“Coming off the bench against Tennessee and having Jay trust me to do that it was a combination of a lot of things — going through my last year in Cleveland and the year in San Francisco and landing on my feet in Washington,” McCoy said. “I hadn’t played in a little over a year so being able to step on the field and play well and be confident that I could still go out there and do this, that was a really big deal for me.”

Then came perhaps the Redskins greatest win in the last three seasons — the 20-17 overtime upset win over the Cowboys in Dallas on Monday Night Football. McCoy, playing before his family and friends back home, completed 25 of 30 passes for 299 yards, while rushing for 16 yards and one touchdown.

“The Dallas win was awesome,” McCoy said. “There’s not a better feeling than beating the Cowboys on the road.”

But when it came time for the Redskins next game the next week — in Minnesota against the Vikings — an injured Robert Griffin III came back and started, reportedly against the wishes of Gruden. Washington lost to the Vikings 29-26.

“I am not a guy who’s going to throw a big fit and tear the team up or speak my opinion when it doesn’t need to be spoken,” McCoy said. “I am going to do what my coaches want me to do and be the player they want me to be. When Robert got healthy and they wanted Robert to go back and play, hey, I did my job,” he said. “Was I frustrated about it? Maybe yeah but I wasn’t going to let that affect our team or our momentum. I am not going to cause a stir.”

McCoy would get a chance to start again that season, completing 31 of 47 passes for 392 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 49-27 loss to Indianapolis, followed by a dismal 20 for 32 for 199 yards and two interceptions in a 24-0 loss to St. Louis before getting injured the following week against the New York Giants.

That would be the last time McCoy would start. Cousins was named the starter going into 2015, and McCoy has remained the backup. And he is happy.

“I am happy to be on the Redskins,” he said. “I am happy to have another year.”

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.

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