- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 6, 2019

LANDOVER — Ereck Flowers approached Colt McCoy and lifted him up by the shoulder pads. For the sixth time that afternoon, the Redskins quarterback had been sacked by a New England Patriots defender.

Whether it was pressure, miscommunication or rust, McCoy did not create the impact the Redskins had wanted in Sunday’s 33-7 loss to the New England Patriots. Coach Jay Gruden named McCoy the starter days earlier after trying to keep his decision a secret all week. On Friday, Gruden, citing the quarterback’s experience, announced the change.

The Redskins offense had stalled the last two games as Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins struggled to move the chains in losses to the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants. Gruden felt a change was necessary and McCoy, his desired quarterback from the start, was suddenly healthy after missing eight weeks with a leg injury.

But against the Patriots, the Redskins’ offensive woes remained.

Gruden said McCoy rushed a few throws early, adding “rightfully so.”

“We had trouble picking up some stuff, which we have practiced and worked with, worked against all week, all year,” Gruden said. “(McCoy) handled some things pretty well, I think. We have to do a better job around him.”

McCoy’s final stat line wasn’t pretty. In his first start since breaking his leg last December, the quarterback threw for 119 yards on 18 completions to 27 attempts. He was intercepted once.

The latter was McCoy’s worst decision of the day. With under a minute left in the first half, the 33-year-old was not on the same page as his target, Steven Sims, and threw a pass right to New England Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty. The Patriots took over at the 27-yard line, in prime position to score.

McCoy appeared to be expecting Sims to break inside, but the receiver went the opposite direction.

“That’s a hard one,” McCoy said. “I haven’t played with these guys a lot. I haven’t practice with them a lot. But I’ll take the blame for me.”

McCoy’s start, though not a surprise, was controversial, given Gruden benched Keenum and did not turn to Haskins.

During the week, Gruden declined opportunites to endorse the first-rounder. In last week’s loss to the Giants, Haskins replaced Keenum in the second quarter, but threw three interceptions.

Gruden said Friday he made his decision to start McCoy “a long time ago.” The coach was criticized when he told New England reporters he did not have a plan at the position, a comment he later downplayed to local media.

McCoy, though, looked befuddled against the league’s No. 1 defense. At one point, he missed a wide-open Terry McLaurin — though, admittedly, it could have been hard to see him as McCoy was soon on the run to escape the pressure upfront.

After the loss, Gruden did not address who will start at the position next week. The Redskins are now 0-5 and the clamor for Haskins will remain. Gruden does not feel the 22-year-old is ready, though he was the backup Sunday with Keenum nursing a foot injury.

Speaking to reporters, McCoy said it was a “tough day.”

“I don’t want to paint any other picture,” he said. “We want to score more than seven points. I felt fine physically. But when you get down a couple scores to these guys, it’s a hard thing to just drop back and throw with their pass rush and their defense. We put ourselves in a hole.”

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