The Redskins’ carousel of quarterbacks last season was laughable, even if the reasons for the team’s changes under center often weren’t. Alex Smith gave way to Colt McCoy in Week 11 after suffering a gruesome leg injury against the Texans. McCoy fractured his leg during a game two weeks later, forcing veteran Mark Sanchez into action. An ineffective Sanchez didn’t last a full game before Coach Jay Gruden turned to Josh Johnson, who hadn’t started in seven years and was playing in a charity basketball tournament three weeks earlier.
As desperate as Washington was at quarterback, the team never had to call on punter Tress Way to make his first career start at the position, contrary to what ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith mistakenly said Tuesday on “First Take.”
“You look at the Redskins last year, they had five different quarterbacks,” Smith said during a segment about the Jaguars signing former Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. “Alex Smith, Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy. They even got Mr. Butt Fumble himself, Mark Sanchez, okay, and some guy named Tress Way actually started one game.”
Smith had the makings of a decent joke, but the joke was on him. Perhaps he — or a researcher for his show — saw Way’s name among the Redskins’ 2018 passing stats and was confused. While Way attempted one pass last year, a seven-yard completion to Jehu Chesson on a fake punt late in the third quarter of a blowout loss to the Eagles, he has never started a game at quarterback.
(Smith acknowledged his mistake later in Tuesday’s show, saying he knew Way was a punter.)
Way, who had a Pro Bowl-worthy season as a punter, had the perfect response to Smith’s on-air blunder.
“118.8,” he tweeted.
That’s Way’s impressive passer rating over five seasons, during which he’s completed both of his pass attempts for 38 yards. Maybe Smith was onto something.
Way’s first career completion was a 31-yarder to Quinton Dunbar on a fake punt against the Giants in 2016. The play was one of the highlights of his career.
“Dude, dude, still today, I’m still getting texts from my friends,” Way told 106.7 The Fan the following day. “And I’m just going, ‘Man. That actually happened.’ Like, [in] the NFL, I threw a pass. Like, are you frickin’ kidding me?”
Tuesday’s gaffe was the latest in a series of football-related slip-ups by Smith. Last month, Smith suggested that the Panthers would be a good fit for free agent running back Le’Veon Bell, perhaps forgetting that Carolina already has an all-pro running back in Christian McCaffrey. He also described Ohio State quarterback prospect Dwayne Haskins as “more of a runner than a thrower,” despite the fact that Haskins threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns last season while rushing only 79 times for 108 yards.
In December, while discussing a “Thursday Night Football” matchup between the Chargers and Chiefs, Smith said he was looking forward to the showdown between Chargers tight end Hunter Henry and Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson. The problem was, Henry hadn’t played all season with a torn ACL and Johnson played for the Raiders before being released in October. In response to his critics on social media, Smith called it “a brain-lock moment."
Former Redskins Junior Galette and Will Blackmon were among those who had a laugh about Smith’s latest goof.
Read more on the Redskins: