The Washington Redskins have had a brutal year when it comes to injuries and that continued on Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles when backup quarterback Colt McCoy fractured his tibia. McCoy’s injury meant the team had to turn to the third quarterback on their depth chart, the newly-signed Mark Sanchez.
Washington ended up losing to the Eagles 28-13, dropping behind Philly in the NFC East standings after leading the division just three short weeks ago. Still, they still have a chance to win the division as they are just a game out of first with matchups against the Giants and Eagles still remaining. So, in theory, they should still be trying to win right? Well, judging by their decision-making in the wake of the quarterback injuries, many feel they’re really not.
First, they signed Sanchez after original starter Alex Smith went down with a horrific leg injury three weeks ago. Prior to entering Monday night’s game in Philly, Sanchez last threw a pass in an NFL game on January 1, 2017. You know who else last threw a pass on that date? Yep, Colin Kaepernick. The reason given at the time of Sanchez’s signing was that some of the coaches on staff already had familiarity with him from his time with the Jets and that he in turn, then had familiarity with the playbook.
Except, based on what we saw on the field on Monday night and what was reported, Sanchez only felt comfortable with a certain number of plays in the playbook. That makes sense considering, you know, he had just been signed about 10 days prior. But, when the original reason for not signing Kaepernick is an argument that he doesn’t fit the playbook or doesn’t know it as well as Sanchez, the evidence doesn’t seem to support that.
But, fine, the team signed Sanchez. However, once McCoy went down with an injury, the team was given a chance to keep their season alive, bring in a competent quarterback and instead, they brought in Josh Johnson. Yes, that Josh Johnson. The one that was last seen throwing a football in an NFL game in 2011. A 32-year-old journeyman who’s now played for a dozen NFL teams in his career. The reason given this time was that there wasn’t enough time to create a new system.
Whether or not you actually believe the team had substantial discussions about Kaepernick is one thing. But this particular line of reasoning is, as you are likely aware, utter junk. As Steven Ruiz perfectly laid out over at For The Win, the Redskins offense is almost exactly tailored towards what Kaepernick has been shown to do well during his career. First off, Washington has been one of the top teams in the league this year in zone read, option runs this season.
The argument against Kaepernick is always, “Well, we would have to change to more zone read, RPO type plays, so we can’t use him on short notice”. Yeah, that doesn’t hold up here. As Ruiz also points out, of the 19 pass concepts that Sanchez ran on Monday night, there are numerous examples of Kaepernick running 15 of those during his final three seasons from 2014-16.
So, clearly, this surely isn’t about play on the field. Kaepernick, by any statistical measure, has been better than both of these quarterbacks in his career. He has also run many similar concepts to what Washington does on offense. There must be some other reason for not signing him right? Well, the most regular argument you’ll hear from the Twitterverse is that teams just don’t want to deal with the media circus that signing Kaepernick would bring.
Let’s take this as if it is an argument with actual merit. Would reporters immediately flock to whatever team signed Kaepernick? Yes. Might the President tweet things about said team? It’s quite possible. Has a media circus ever stopped an NFL team from signing a good player before? No, and it would seem that Washington actually offers us our latest case study in this respect, after having claimed linebacker Reuben Foster following his second arrest for domestic violence this calendar year.
The team claimed the linebacker in spite of the fact that he likely won’t even play for the team because he has been placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list while the league conducts an investigation. So, if you’re keeping score here, the team is more than willing to answer questions (poorly I might add) about why the have decided to claim a linebacker who has twice now been arrested for domestic violence with evidence of those crimes. But, they are unwilling to sign a quarterback whose most troubling issue is the fact that he…..took a knee during the national anthem to protest injustice and racial inequality in America.
These excuses offered up by teams are transparently incorrect and the Redskins aren’t the only team guilty of it. The 49ers (following Garoppolo’s injury), the Bills (brought in Bitcoin aficionado Matt Barkley), and the Bengals (Jeff Driskel) have all completely ignored Kaepernick’s availability and willingness to play over the course of this season. It’s nothing new, but the Redskins decision not to sign Kaepernick has cost them their best shot at the division. As Shannon Sharpe eloquently stated on Undisputed earlier this week:
“You keep doing wrong so bad things are going to keep happening to you. Look at all the injuries. My grandmama used to say all the time Jenny, ‘God don’t like ugly. Sometimes he don’t like pretty’,” said Sharpe. “They no more considered Colin Kaepernick to be a quarterback, to be a viable option for the backup, than I have given consideration for running for the President of the United States.”
Redskins fans weren’t happy about the move either.