ARLINGTON, Texas — Colt McCoy had no idea just how many family members spent Thanksgiving Day with him at AT&T Stadium.
But for however many dozens who might have been there supporting the quarterback, one stood out to him: grandfather Burl McCoy.
“I got a little bit emotional when I saw my 85-year-old grandpa on the sidelines there at pre-game,” Colt McCoy said. “He’s my hero. I’m very thankful for him and my family. They’re so supportive. Just glad that I could get out there and play.”
The Tuscola, Texas native didn’t have the performance he wanted in his first start since 2014. He threw three interceptions in addition to two touchdowns and the Washington Redskins lost by eight. But coach Jay Gruden has hope that with a normal week of practice, McCoy and the starting offense will mesh together better.
That’s key because this was anything but a “normal” week for McCoy.
“It was just sort of a freak week,” McCoy said, “with that happening to Alex, a short week coming home to Texas where I played college ball, and you know, there was some emotions but I just did my best to kind of tune those out and play ball.”
Alex Smith broke his leg on a Sunday, and on Thursday McCoy suited up as Washington’s starting quarterback in the Dallas Cowboys’ larger-than-life home stadium many dub “Jerry World.”
The Redskins only ran walk-throughs between Sunday’s game and Thursday, so — as Gruden pointed out more than once — McCoy had not taken one practice snap with the first-string offense.
“Colt’s been here. I’m not gonna use that as an excuse,” Gruden said. “I just think it would’ve been nice to have a couple (reps) for the guy. He hadn’t had any since training camp with the No. 1 unit. Partly that’s my fault. I could mix it into practice earlier in the season.”
McCoy didn’t look uncomfortable all four quarters. After a sluggish start and his first interception, he found Vernon Davis deep on the left and planted a pass right in his hands for a 53-yard touchdown.
Not unlike Smith, he was also mobile outside the pocket. He ran for 28 yards on five carries, including a 12-yard scramble to convert on a third and 10.
His last interception, in particular, was an example of a disconnect in communication between him and his receivers. He had Maurice Harris a step ahead of Xavier Woods, but he delivered his pass behind Harris and Woods picked it off.
“There’s little things throughout the game that I think came up because I just hadn’t had a whole lot of reps with those guys,” McCoy said. “Depths of receivers’ routes. Maybe I thought he was making a break here, and the ball ended up being six inches behind him and it’s a turnover. Those things will just eat at me for a while.”
McCoy said he talked with Smith every day this week and wished he could have won Thursday’s game for him.
“He’s recovering and he’s such a great professional, such a great teammate,” McCoy said. “One of the best guys that I’ve ever been around in my nine years. Learned a lot from him, and I know he’s pulling for me.”
There are five games left, each one crucial to the Redskins’ playoff aspirations. They have 10 days off before playing in Philadelphia in a Monday night contest.
Before McCoy gets there, he is going home. He will eat turkey with his family on Friday and try to unwind after a five-day stretch he surely didn’t see coming. But he made clear that, to him, this is no time to put football out of his mind.
“As a competitor, it’s hard for me to let things go sometimes,” he said. “Losing games hurts. We all want to win, we all want to compete. I think I’ll just have to move on from that and then really start diving into what we want to do next week.”