- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — This time, the dread was apparent in the Redskins’ locker room. Chris Thompson struggled to speak. Trent Williams was a man of few words. In another room nearby, coach Jay Gruden hung his head when addressing reporters.

Less than three weeks ago, the Redskins tried to say all the right things after losing quarterback Alex Smith to a broken leg for the year.

But on Monday — after Colt McCoy suffered a season-ending fractured fibula in a 28-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles — the Redskins didn’t try and hide their disappointment.

Mathematically, the Redskins’ playoff hopes are still alive. Washington, though, knows the challenge its facing moving forward: the margin for error is razor thin with four games left.

“Our backs (are) against the wall,” said running back Adrian Peterson after Washington’s third straight loss.

They’ll try to soldier on with Mark Sanchez at quarterback.

Signed on Nov. 19 following Smith’s injury, Sanchez went 13 of 21 for 100 yards and an interception Monday. His rust and unfamiliarity with the playbook was apparent, resorting to check downs, while also sailing some of his throws.

In lead-up to facing the Eagles, the Redskins (6-6) did not give Sanchez any first-team reps. After all, the team was still in the midst of getting a rhythm with McCoy under center for his second start of the year. 

Sanchez said he understood, adding he’d want the same treatment if it had been McCoy backing him up instead. 

“Ther’es no excuses,” Sanchez said. “To be totally honest, nobody cares. Nobody cares. You’re charged with a job. You get paid to play this game. You get paid to go win. That’s what people expect. That’s the kind of pressure we put on ourselves, much more than outside our building.”

Sanchez hasn’t had extensive playing time since the 2015 season, in which he started two games for the Eagles. He also started eight games in 2014, also for the Eagles.

Drafted fifth overall in 2009, Sanchez was once seen as the savior for the New York Jets. He even had success with them immediately, making the AFC Championship in 2009 and 2010. But he never developed in the way the Jets’ coaching staff had hoped.

In 2012 — Sanchez’s last full year as a starter in New York — he threw just 13 touchdowns to 18 interceptions.

For the past two years, Sanchez has been mostly a backup. In 2016, he served as Dak Prescott’s backup in Dallas. Then in 2017, he spent time with the Chicago Bears, serving as a mentor for first-rounder Mitchell Trubisky.

The Redskins signed Sanchez, in part, because of his familiarity with coaches like Kevin O’Connell, who played with the quarterback in New York, and Bill Callahan.

Gruden gave Sanchez a vote of confidence after the game.

“We’ll come up with a plan,” Gruden said. “Mark’s played a lot of football. He’s won playoff football games. He can function at quarterback. We can get some things done.”

But there’s a lot to learn before next Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. Gruden noted how Kevin Hogan, now with the Broncos, had more practice time with the Redskins in the preseason than Sanchez has had with Washington.

Sanchez admitted he’s still learning the names of his teammates.

“With respect to Alex and Colt, I’ve got to do my very best to play well and help rally this team and figure out a way to win,” Sanchez said. “That’s the ultimate form of respect for these guys.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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