SNIDER: Can Redskins survive and thrive under McCoy?

Rick Snider
November 18, 2018 - 5:33 pm

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports


All of the Washington Redskins encircled quarterback Alex Smith as he sat on the cart ready to be taken into the offseason. So did half of the Houston Texans. It was a warrior’s sendoff complete with Smith waving to the crowd as he rode past the stands.

Smith suffered a broken tibia and fibula when sacked by Houston defensive end J.J. Watt and cornerback Kareem Jackson on Sunday. Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann tweeted “Alex’s leg is exactly like mine 33 yrs ago.” Theismann never played again after breaking his leg so grotesquely that replay viewers still flinch 33 years later. Ironically, both players were injured on Nov. 18.

Coach Jay Gruden told backup Colt McCoy “Let’s go win a game.” And on his first pass in nearly three years, McCoy threaded a nine-yarder in the end zone for a touchdown. He then led Washington to its first lead change of the season on the next drive as Adrian Peterson surpassed John Riggins with his 105th career rushing touchdown, sixth best ever.

Suddenly, it was 21-20 Redskins. FedEx Field, with all of 40,000 or so fans, suddenly shook with supporters chastised by players as supposedly worthless suddenly a home edge. Oh, it was loud given the season’s prospects that looked so dim moments earlier were suddenly reversed.

A second lead change of the season came just four minutes later as Houston charged ahead 23-21. This was a smash-mouth game that the Redskins like, but this time the decision wouldn’t go their way.

McCoy leading a third touchdown would have been the storybook ending. But, Houston began blitzing and their pass rush was way too much for Washington’s makeshift line missing three starters.

The Redskins’ last chance flickered and died on Dustin Hopkins’ 63-yard field goal attempt that was several yards short. A 23-21 loss suddenly leaves the Redskins’ (6-4) NFC East lead vulnerable.

It was an emotionally-draining game that must be quickly forgotten as Washington travels to Dallas on Thursday for a Thanksgiving matchup against the Redskins biggest rival with the winner leading the NFC East. Any revaluation of what happened on Sunday will wait until the Dallas post 11-day break before facing Philadelphia on Dec. 3.

But the Redskins are moving on without Smith. Indeed, they need a backup for McCoy with several en route before the game was even over. One will be chosen on Monday because everything is happening quickly.

The season’s fate may rest in the coming days. McCoy’s biggest win in five seasons with Washington was a Thanksgiving victory at Dallas. The passer admits he’s a more mature passer and person and ready for the challenge.

And that’s what it’s going to be – a big challenge.

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Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.