Add Washington to the ever-increasing list of NFL teams to lose a quarterback the past two seasons yet opt against signing Colin Kaepernick, instead bringing in a less-talented quarterback to fill the role of starter or backup.
First, after losing Alex Smith for the season, Washington brought in Mark Sanchez to serve as Colt McCoy’s backup. Then, after McCoy broke his leg in Monday’s game, the team signed Josh Johnson to back up Sanchez.
If Johnson’s name sounds familiar, it’s only because this is the ninth team to have employed him over the course of his 10-year career, even if he only threw an actual pass in a game for one of those teams – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The latest of Johnson’s career passes was thrown in 2011, Kaepernick’s rookie season.
Not ironically, it was Washington president Bruce Allen who was the Buccaneers GM at the time Johnson was drafted in 2008. Jay Gruden was an offensive assistant with that team and was later Johnson’s OC in 2013 with the Bengals. So when Gruden says Washington discussed the possibility of bringing in Kaepernick but went in a different direction based on familiarity with the offense, there’s merit on the surface. But ultimately it’s a cop out.
Washington doesn’t expect Johnson, or any of the other career backups it worked out, to actually have to play. The team signed a guy who provided it with a built-in excuse for why it didn’t sign Kaepernick, because Washington surely knew the questions would come. If knowing the offensive scheme was truly of concern, Johnson would’ve been called prior to Sanchez, who surely couldn’t be as familiar with the offense as Johnson, right? Gruden said the team signed Sanchez due to his “experience in a pro-style offense,” but the real reason is because Sanchez was the best available outside of Kaepernick, regardless of scheme fit.
If teams actually cared about winning more than the rightist-tempering agenda they have against Kaepernick, none of these silly excuses would carry any weight. What good is having a quarterback familiar with your system if he’s not good enough to execute it? Why not throw a more talented quarterback out there and see what happens? Or at least implement some stuff into your offense that works in favor of the more talented QB. But one week after claiming Reuben Foster on waivers, Washington proved once again that winning football games is more important to NFL teams than the issue of domestic abuse, but not more important than police brutality against black people.
So, at 6-6, 1 game out of the division race and 1/2 game out of a Wild Card spot, Washington is essentially punting on the season. Not because the team won’t still make the playoffs (though seeming less likely at this point), and not because it definitely would’ve made the postseason with Kaepernick, but because it didn’t employ the person who would’ve provided the best chance. It’s a bad decision in isolation, but now that we have multiple cases of the same bad decision, collusion should be clear now, even for the people who didn’t want to believe it before.