Redskins Sign an Out-of-Work Quarterback. It’s Not You-Know-Who.
5th December 2018

Yes, this is another one of those stories.

An N.F.L. team signs a quarterback who has never succeeded at the professional level. And fans everywhere look at each other and say, “But what about …?”

This time, the team is the Redskins, and the quarterback is Josh Johnson. Washington is in need of a passer, having gone through Alex Smith and Colt McCoy, both lost with broken legs. That leaves the team with Mark Sanchez, still best remembered for fumbling the ball after colliding with the rear end of his teammate with the Jets in 2012. When signed earlier this year he had not thrown a pass since 2016.

Sanchez’s backup will now be Johnson, whose N.F.L. drought is even longer. A fifth-round draft pick out of San Diego in 2008, he last threw a pass in the league in 2011, for the Buccaneers, and since then has been bouncing around the benches and practice squads of several teams.

He even suited up for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the now defunct United Football League and was briefly on the roster of the San Diego Fleet, part of the new Alliance of American Football set to begin in 2019.

As a passer with Tampa Bay, he started five games and was 0-5. His career numbers are 96-for-177 for 1,042 yards, 10 interceptions and 5 touchdowns. That’s an adjusted yards per pass figure of 3.9, which would rank him behind 47 of the 50 guys to start a game this season. It is still ahead of Nathan Peterman, though.

It’s not like the Redskins’ season is over. The New York Times playoff simulator gives them a 31 percent chance of making the playoffs out of the weak N.F.C. East. To succeed, they’ll have to do it with Sanchez and Johnson at quarterback.

Perhaps one explanation for the signing is that Johnson’s time at the Buccaneers overlapped with Redskins Coach Jay Gruden’s time there as an assistant. Johnson’s tenure on the bench in San Francisco in 2014 overlapped with that of a noted starting quarterback …

Let’s move on.

Gruden was asked whether a certain available veteran quarterback with a Super Bowl appearance on his résumé had been considered instead. Yes, Gruden replied, but “we will probably go a different direction.” That direction is Josh Johnson.

“When you’re talking about a backup quarterback this late in the game, you want someone with a similar skill set to the quarterback you have,” Gruden said, apparently referring to Mark Sanchez’s not-especially-touted skill set.

It’s kind of like when the Bills signed Derek Anderson and later Matt Barkley this season.

“I know Brandon is always looking at all the different options that are available to us, so we’ll leave it at that,” Coach Sean McDermott said after Barkley was signed, referring to general manager Brandon Beane.

Or when the Packers lost Aaron Rodgers last season. “I got three years invested in Brett Hundley,” Coach Mike McCarthy said. “Two years invested in Joe Callahan. The quarterback room is exactly where it needs to be.” (McCarthy was fired this week.)

Or when the 49ers opted for C.J. Beathard and then Nick Mullens to replace the injured Jimmy Garoppolo.

“I made that decision because of the style of offense we wanted to go with,” Coach Kyle Shanahan said.

Cody Kessler, Jeff Driskel and Chase Daniel have started games at quarterback this season. DeShone Kizer, Matt Cassel, Taysom Hill and Matt Schaub are employed.

And each time the question hangs in the air: But what about … ?

This is another one of those stories. Expect more.

Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned since the end of the 2016 season.

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