Mark Sanchez was responsible for the first touchdown of the game between Washington and New York. Only problem was that it was a pick-six. On a second-and-11 on his team’s one-yard line late in the first quarter, Sanchez’s first pass of the drive was deflected at the line and taken to the house by Curtis Riley.
It didn’t get much better for Mr. Buttfumble after that. Before coach Jay Gruden pulled the plug on his floundering quarterback, Sanchez finished with 38 yards on 6-of-14 passing, two picks, a 0.0 QBR and a 34-0 deficit against an utterly terrible Giants team. Sure, some of the disastrous play can’t entirely be put on the quarterback’s shoulders (an injury-plagued offensive line gave up five sacks and his first three pass attempts were all dropped). However, Sanchez was clearly playing poorly enough to get pulled in favor of Josh Johnson—a former Giants backup who last took an NFL snap in 2012 and most recently employed by the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football.
Johnson did not play as Gruden expected—in the sense that the Washington coach said he was looking for a player with a “similar style” to Sanchez as his backup, and Johnson actually performed competently. He completed 11 of 16 passes for 195 yards, threw for one touchdown, and rushed for another. It wasn’t exactly a performance that could have inspired anything close to a comeback—Washington was down 40-0 when Johnson entered the game—but at least he showed the fans at FedEx Field that their team’s players were capable of some athletic accomplishments.
Regardless, the performances from both quarterbacks today did an excellent job to further discrediting Gruden’s bogus claim that Colin Kaepernick would not have been a good addition to the team because there was “[n]ot a lot of time to really get a brand new quarterback, a new system installed and taught in a couple days of practice.” On one hand you have Sanchez, who supposedly was familiar with the offensive strategy Washington was trying to run today, and completely shit the bed trying to execute it. On the other, you have a mobile quarterback in Johnson who was just signed less than a week ago and managed to figure out enough off this supposedly difficult scheme to get in two scores. In fact, he played so well that he earned himself a starting job.
Realistically, Washington shouldn’t have expected anything else but what transpired today. Gruden decided to make his bed with Sanchez as his No. 1 guy, and an off-the-street guy as his No. 2, for reasons that will never be explicitly articulated. Now, a team that was once reigning supreme over its division is just one game ahead of last place with less than a month remaining in the season. They could keep following their current path and bottom-out for the rest of the year in a show of institutional arrogance, or they could sign a quarterback who’s displayed an ability to do the job better than every single schmuck this franchise has brought in so far. It’s their choice.