Redskins fans can be an odd bunch.
The team suffered a major loss on Sunday when Alex Smith broke two bones in his leg, and for many supporters on social media, the questions all turned to what happens at quarterback next season. Can Smith return? Will the team draft another passer? What are the salary cap implications of the injury?
Jay Gruden had a simple message about where his mind was focused after the 23-21 loss to Houston on Sunday.
“To Dallas,” the head coach said. “We’re excited about it.”
For the Redskins, the only thing to think about is winning on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium. At 6-4, Washington remains in first place in the NFC East, holding a one game lead over the Cowboys.
While it might seem like the playoff hopes vanished when Smith got carted off the field, Redskins players and coaches don’t see it that way.
“I have confidence in Colt, always have. I’m a big, firm believer in Colt McCoy’s ability to play football in the National Football League. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for him. I know he would like it in different circumstances but things happen for a reason,” Gruden said.
Particularly for McCoy, there is no looking ahead to 2019. He’s not even looking ahead to December. The former University of Texas star is going to take his opportunity one game at a time, and that starts Thursday in Dallas.
“You never like to see how it happened today, but for me I just have to go out there and give it all I’ve got. I’ve been a starter before, had it taken away, and it’s not a good feeling,” McCoy said. “We have a good team here and they’ve got us in great shape, Alex [Smith] has got us in great shape, we’ve just got to go continue to play football.”
In less than a half against Houston, McCoy moved the Redskins offense and energized the crowd. On just his second snap, McCoy threw a touchdown pass to Jordan Reed. On the day, McCoy finished with 54 yards passing and another 35 yards on the ground.
McCoy won’t be Smith, but that isn’t all bad.
Despite two interceptions on Sunday, Smith basically protects the football like a mother grizzly bear protects her cubs. McCoy will take more chances, and that could mean more big plays and more scoring for the Redskins offense. It could also mean more turnovers, but that’s probably something Gruden will live with.
Remember, too, this Redskins coaching staff believes in McCoy.
When the organization was considering all options with Kirk Cousins last season, handing the team over to McCoy was a possible option. Or at least letting McCoy compete with another veteran free agent passer was taken into account.
McCoy knows that Gruden’s comments are sincere, and he knows this is a major chance for him to prove he belongs as an NFL starter.
“I know how Jay [Gruden] wants this offense run,” McCoy said. “I’ll do my best to make that happen.”
The Redskins have six games remaining, and four of them will be in the division. Washington’s season is anything but over.
The focus for Jay Gruden and Colt McCoy remains firmly on 2018. And with an NFC East title firmly in play, that’s what the fans should be looking at too.
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