Colt McCoy was the only quarterback to play Thursday night against the Jaguars, and he took his duties seriously knowing the stakes for the youngsters surrounding him.
In his ideal situation, Colt McCoy wouldn't have played the entirety of the Redskins' 17-16 loss to the Jaguars Thursday night at FedExField. He would have used the team's fourth and final tune-up before the regular season to keep competing in front of coaches, trying to prove himself out of a backup quarterback job.
But with Kirk Cousins named the starter earlier this week, and Robert Griffin III still sidelined with a concussion, McCoy accepted his responsibility and strapped up to play four quarters with the second- and third-string units, full of players hoping for a good final impression.
Without many substitutions, and with final roster cuts looming, McCoy did his best to elevate the players around him, realizing this game could be some teammates' last of the season. He completed 22-of-33 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown, a 19-yard strike to wide receiver Rashad Ross.
"I thought he was solid," head coach Jay Gruden said of McCoy. "He did some good things, moved around a little bit. We didn't protect him very good at times but overall I think he managed the game. Did a nice job, put us in a position to win and that's what Colt does. He's a consistent quarterback, he doesn't make many mistakes and he will always keep the game close for you at the end."
With 28 starters sitting out Thursday, McCoy was deeply impressed by the efforts from his three wide receivers and two tight ends, which played tirelessly thanks to the limited substitutions.
McCoy led several long, sustaining drives, keeping his resolve after fumbling an exchange in a handoff early and getting sacked three times. He remained resilient, and the sixth-year product from Texas helped rally for 298 yards of total offense with depleted resources.
"Those guys did a phenomenal job," McCoy said of his receivers. "That's hard to do. No subs. We were gassed at the end. Second half was tough, but really those guys deserve a ton of credit. I was really, really proud of them in a way that they came out and played today… I felt sorry for them to be honest. I mean they would come back to the huddle just huffing and puffing. Those guys played the whole game."
Running back Chris Thompson, who shared a majority of handoffs with running back Mack Brown, noticed the heavy breathing inside the huddle, too.
"Those guys were really tired out there," Thompson said. "I think they really showed some mental toughness today because they still didn't take any reps off. They were still running their routes and everything full speed."
McCoy missed a few deep balls to Ross that could have enhanced his stat line, but the quarterback, who was disappointed with the loss even with the outcome's minor significance, approached the game like it was the regular season.
That was evident in the fourth quarter, when after throwing an interception – one that was negated after offsetting penalties – he chased down the culprit, a heavy Jaguars linebacker, and wrestled him from behind to the ground before he could score.
"I really felt like I was going to catch him," McCoy said. "But I got a late start because I was looking for a flag and I didn't see one, and I thought for sure there was a flag."
McCoy continued the drive, which lasted just more than nine minutes, and got Brown the opportunity to punch the ball into the end zone for a 3-yard score.
In a game that might not matter much for McCoy, he made it count for the youngsters surrounding him in the huddle, panting away as they made their final appeals to continue their NFL journey in Washington.
"You know, I've been around for a long time. You just go out there and lay it all on the line," McCoy said. "Be proud of what you put on tape, and seriously, those guys, we play with two tight ends. I mean I don't think I've ever seen that in a game. So we like to win, but you know, I really think those guys did an amazing job."