No, Mark Sanchez Was Not the Answer for the Redskins’ Quarterback Problem

It came to this: The Washington Redskins on Sunday started Mark Sanchez at quarterback.

As predicted by everyone, Sanchez played forgettably and was benched in the second half. So who did the Redskins replace him with? A quarterback who had not thrown a pass since 2011, and whose last employer was the San Diego Fleet.

It has been a trying year for Redskins quarterbacks. Last season, Kirk Cousins was reasonably proficient in leading Washington to a 7-9 record. But wanting a little bit of an upgrade, the Redskins traded in the off-season for Alex Smith of the Chiefs, a team that had Patrick Mahomes ready to take his job.

Smith guided this Redskins team to a 6-4 start, good enough to lead the weak N.F.C. East. After 10 games, The New York Times Playoff Simulator gave Washington a 65 percent chance to make the postseason.

But Smith sustained an ugly broken leg, forcing the team to turn to the journeyman Colt McCoy. Then McCoy broke his leg, too. So, the Redskins went out and signed Sanchez.

Widely mocked for his poor performances with the Jets, and as the man who once fumbled after colliding with a teammate’s posterior, Sanchez was an unlikely sight as an N.F.L. starting quarterback in 2018.

The sight did not last long. Sanchez threw 14 passes on Sunday; six were completed, for 38 yards. Two others wound up in the hands of opposing players, and one of those was returned for a touchdown. Counting his cameo last week after McCoy was hurt, Sanchez has managed to put up an adjusted yards per pass figure this season of 0.09, barely better than simply kneeling with the ball every play.

(To give him his due, that is still slightly better than Nathan Peterman, who posted a 0.01 in that stat this season.)

With the Redskins trailing the mediocre Giants by 40-0, Coach Jay Gruden gave up and called on Josh Johnson.

Don’t feel bad if you don’t know a lot about Johnson. He started a few games for the Buccaneers in 2009 and 2011, then pretty much vanished — tumbling down the football food chain to practice squads and then minor league teams like the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the now defunct United Football League and the San Diego Fleet, which will play in the new Alliance of American Football.

Until Sunday, the last time Johnson had thrown an N.F.L. pass was 2011.

“I’ve been cut so much, been picked the week of games, got picked up one time the day of a game,” Johnson told reporters.

Here’s the funny thing. Johnson was actually pretty good on Sunday. The Redskins didn’t rally to win or anything; they lost and fell to 6-7. But they did score 16 unanswered points with Johnson running the offense, and he was 11 for 16 for 195 yards, with one touchdown, one interception and zero butt-fumbles.

Gruden already has announced that Johnson — not Sanchez — will start this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Of course, Sunday’s half-day was a very small sample size, and Johnson’s performances with the Bucs a decade ago were not good. One would expect that next week, when he improbably starts an N.F.L. game for a team still mathematically in playoff contention, he will come back to earth, even against the ordinary Jaguars.

Or maybe Johnson will be the answer to the 6-7 Redskins’ quarterback dilemma. Maybe the Redskins will win out and grab a playoff spot. Maybe Johnson will pull a Kurt Warner and light up the playoffs.

Fifty-two players have started at quarterback in the N.F.L. this season. Among them are Derek Anderson, Cody Kessler, Chase Daniel and C.J. Beathard. Matt Barkley was excellent in leading the Bills to a 31-point win in November. Nick Mullens has good numbers in five games for the 49ers.

So maybe Johnson has returned at precisely the right time. It’s feels like the kind of year in which almost anything can happen.

Source: Read Full Article