- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 9, 2018

LANDOVER — Josh Johnson used a trick to help learn his new Redskins teammates when the quarterback was signed to the team last Tuesday: he played EA Sports’ “Madden.” After all, the journeyman quarterback had to quickly get caught up to speed — given he was playing in a charity basketball tournament in Oakland last week.

Not even a week later, Johnson now appears to be the Redskins’ next starting quarterback.

Mark Sanchez was benched in Sunday’s 40-16 loss to the New York Giants after a horrid performance and Johnson finished the game — throwing for 195 yards for a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for an eight-yard touchdown.

Coach Jay Gruden said Johnson will start next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

If that holds, Johnson will be the team’s fourth starter this season.

“We’ll get Josh ready to go,” Gruden said. “I think the element he brings a little bit knowing the system. … My hat’s off to him for picking it up. Fortunately, he’s been around me for a while and can handle the terminology and did a pretty good job moving around.”

Johnson’s signing received some criticism last week after Gruden had said the team discussed free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick but opted to go in a different direction. Johnson, too, hadn’t thrown a pass since 2011 before Sunday’s game.

But Gruden said the Redskins needed someone familiar with his terminology on short notice. That led the Redskins to sign Johnson, who played under Gruden in Cincinnati.

Johnson has mostly been a career-long backup. He has started only five games, four of which came in 2009. Including the Redskins, Johnson has spent time with 12 teams, factoring in brief stints during OTAs and training camp.

But that doesn’t mean Johnson receives many reps. Even before the Giants game, Johnson said he mostly worked against Washington’s starting defense as the scout team quarterback.

“It felt good to really just go out there and experience some success with these guys,” Johnson said. “For myself, I mean I haven’t played in a long time. I’ve always [been] interested in getting out there in a real game. I had the opportunity and I just wanted to take advantage of it.”

Johnson did provide a jolt to the Redskins’ offense. Sanchez had thrown for just 38 yards, completing only six of his 14 passes and throwing two interceptions.

Johnson was able to use his legs to make plays outside the pocket. He was the team’s leading rusher with 45 yards on seven attempts.

In the passing game, Johnson completed 68.8 percent of his throws — and hit Jamison Crowder for a short pass that resulted in a 79-yard score. He also helped convert two, two-point conversions after each score.

“He brought a certain level of energy,” Crowder said of Johnson. “It was a tough day, but when he came in, you could kind of just feel he had a certain level of energy and we just all kind of fed off of that and just played along with it.”

Only one other team — the Buffalo Bills — have started four quarterbacks this season. The Redskins, of course, are in this position after Alex Smith and Colt McCoy were both injured.

Johnson said he didn’t know if he would ever get another chance to start.

“I’ve always constantly kept preparing,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, I’ve also had to prepare for other things. You never really know in this league. You just have to take what comes, but at the end of the day, I always tell myself this is something that I love, something I want to do.

“I just got to make sure that I’m ready, so that if the opportunity does come, I can at least say I put my best foot forward.”

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