He also had one ugly-looking interception after the negated touchdown — when he tried to throw a ball out of the end zone but felt his knee buckle and threw it short — and one quite impressive spin move that is worth a few more viewings.
This was the McCoy we saw last winter in mop-duty duty against the Cowboys (7 for 11 for 128 yards and a touchdown). It was also the McCoy we saw in 2014, when he was likely Washington’s best quarterback before suffering a season-ending injury. In a league that frequently features cover-your-eyes quarterbacking, McCoy at least seems competent — which is not a backhanded compliment. He can run a functioning offense, which sometimes feels like a novelty. And thus, I didn’t blink when Chris Cooley said this about McCoy on Monday morning.
“I feel so comfortable with Colt McCoy as our backup quarterback,” Cooley said on ESPN 980. “I would put Colt McCoy theoretically in the top 32 quarterbacks in the league. I think there are six teams he could start for this year.”
Are there? I asked Cooley about this after his show, and while he hadn’t been thinking of six particular teams, together we came up with about 10 possibilities. The natural place to start would be with ESPN’s quarterback tier project, a poll of NFL insiders by the well-respected Mike Sando. The bottom eight teams represented on that list: the Rams, Browns, Broncos, 49ers, Eagles, Texans, Bills and Jets. Would you rather have McCoy — for this season — than Case Keenum? Robert Griffin III? Mark Sanchez? Blaine Gabbert? McCoy, after all, has previously started for two of those bottom-four teams.
McCoy, for what it’s worth, told me he had five offers during the offseason, including with the Redskins, although none was to compete for a starting job. He chose to return to Washington because of his comfort in the system, and his belief that if he gets a chance to play here, he would excel. He also said he believes he will get another chance at a starting job before he’s done.
“The faith comes from just kind of the way I’m wired, man,” he told me. “You know, I had to work for what I got at [Texas.] A lot of people don’t even remember; when I was a sophomore I split reps in the bowl game. I was the MVP of the bowl game, but I split reps. I only took like 35 snaps, okay? And Coach [Mack] Brown made me earn the job my junior year, and he made me turn around and earn it my senior year. I was a coach’s kid, so my dad wouldn’t let me play as a freshman [in high school]. I had to earn my job 10 times over in high school.
“And yeah, I’ve had my ups and downs in the league,” he said. “I’ve had my injury. My injury coming out of college sucked. You know, I have a lot of things I could look back on and say I wish this would have been different, I wish this would have been different. I guess my approach is that’s my journey, that’s kind of what it’s been like. So if I ever do get that opportunity, it’s going to mean the world to me, and I’m gonna have a tight grip on it, too. I’m not gonna let it go.”
Cooley went through McCoy’s performance on Friday, offering extensive praise for several moments and mild criticism of others. He said McCoy “had great timing and command of the offense,” that “he bounced back from adversity really well and threw some nice passes,” but that “he’s sliding and moving in the pocket when he doesn’t have to, and it’s taking some off some of his throws.”
“He’s just doing a little too much,” Cooley said. “He’s great, but sometimes just do a little bit less.”
Still, Cooley repeated that he thinks McCoy is “one of the best 32 quarterbacks in the league.”
If that’s the case, you would think that McCoy would — or should — get a chance eventually. He believes he will.
“Obviously we all want to play. I’d give anything,” he said. “I certainly think that I’ll have another opportunity at some point. But right now, in this place, I can’t look back. … Ultimately, I am where I am for a reason. I believe that. And if I get another opportunity some day to play, then my responsibility is to be ready to play.”