*Despite a last-minute change at quarterback before Saturday's game, Colt McCoy continued to look sharp, leading the second- and third-team offense to two touchdowns and a field goal against the Ravens.
Of the traits most needed as a backup quarterback in the NFL, preparedness -- sometimes at a moment's notice -- can often rank first.
For the majority of last week, quarterback Colt McCoy worked with the third-string offense, anticipating Robert Griffin III, and later Kirk Cousins, to handle the majority of snaps in Baltimore as the Redskins tried to get the first-team offense in sync and find a clearer picture of their starting rotation.
A second opinion from an independent neurologist regarding Griffin III's health required some last minute changes. Mostly, it forced head coach Jay Gruden to give McCoy the entire second half to operate, a chance to work with the second- and third-string units and ultimately connect for two touchdowns in the Redskins' 31-13 victory over the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
McCoy admitted after the game that the news about Griffin III surprised him, mostly because he had to quickly contemplate his role for Saturday after practicing with the scout team during the last several days. He had barely prepared for the Ravens other than watching some film. So his own success, completing 10-of-12 passes for 95 yards, two scores and leading the offense to a field goal in the third and fourth quarters, he credited to that necessary preparation.
"Last night when we got the news, you know that's part of being a backup, got to always be ready," McCoy said after the game. "Hats off to the guys up front. I thought the second O-Line did an outstanding job. The young guys coming off the bench, receivers, thought they did a really good job running routes and I was able to get them a few throws and they made some plays."
McCoy's favorite target was wide receiver Rashad Ross, who collected both of McCoy's touchdown passes, part of the pair's connection for six total completions and 56 yards. Their timing and execution, McCoy said, had a lot to do with staying on the field once practice finished this week, getting extra reps and building a rapport just enough to have games like this.
"I thought Ross did a really nice job," McCoy said. "He works hard and we spend a lot of time after practice throwing. That's the thing in preseason [when] you're playing with a lot of guys that you've never played with before and to just get a little bit of timing down with them goes a long way so I appreciate all their hard work."
McCoy led Washington to an 11-play, 70-yard, 5-minute 47-second touchdown drive to open the third quarter, using running back Matt Jones to bludgeon the defense for considerable gains that opened up some play action opportunities. The drive culminated with a 5-yard strike to Ross in the end zone on third down.
The Redskins received their best field position of the night on the next drive after a Jackson Jeffcoat interception at the Ravens 20-yard line. McCoy ran four plays and this time took some heat off a throw to the corner of the end zone, where Ross had plenty of room for the catch. The score increased the Redskins' lead to 28-13.
"As I said all along I believe we have three NFL caliber quarterbacks on our team," Gruden said after the game. "We're fortunate. They've all taken their reps -- Kirk and Colt -- taking their reps, second, third team, with some first team throughout training camp, and they've made the most of it, and they're competing. You can see it on the field. They studied, they prepared. They got themselves ready to play and they played well."
McCoy didn't have to do much in the fourth quarter, only passing once as he let his running backs tick down the clock. But in his limited time dropping back he looked sharp, often avoiding hits by maneuvering his way out of the pocket, pump faking and finding an open receiver at the last second.
Neither quarterback was sacked, an impressive achievement by the offensive line considering the Ravens' attacking defense, but also a testament to Cousins and McCoy evading pressure and getting the ball out when necessary.
"[A] team like Baltimore throws you a lot of different looks," McCoy said. "You can prepare, prepare and prepare and they'll show you two or three things that you haven't seen. You just gotta go back to your fundamentals and know they're gonna make some plays and try to bounce back. Be mentally tough."
After fielding numerous questions about his future with the Redskins at the position, that seems like a slogan McCoy has embraced, both willingly and by necessity.