If you saw what happened to Alex Smith’s leg, you didn’t need the updates. Watching the video was enough to tell you that his tibia and fibula were broken, and that he needed immediate surgery, and that he’s out for the year. It was one of the more gruesome football injuries in recent memory, and came 33 years to the day—in a game with the same final score—as Joe Theismann’s legendary injury. The point is, the Skins need a quarterback.
Colt McCoy, the only other QB on the roster, replaced Smith in the third quarter and nearly led a comeback, but Washington came up just short, losing 23-21 to Houston. McCoy, let us stipulate, is not good enough. He is in that weird limbo as a perfectly fine backup, who in theory can step in when a starter goes down, but in practice—well, you’d rather he be holding a clipboard than a football. And this is not a team that can afford to mail it in. The Skins are 6-4, a game up in a decidedly mediocre NFC East, and with a competent QB would have a clear path to the playoffs. And then, who knows? This is the NFL, and in the postseason you just need to win four in a row.
It’ll be McCoy leading them, I guess. Perhaps it won’t be a disaster, since the Skins’ offense focuses largely on ball control and on limiting turnovers, though McCoy, with his 27:23 career TD:INT ratio, and a propensity to take sacks, hasn’t exactly shown he can protect the football. Having completed just 13 passes since 2014, he hasn’t had the chance to show it, either—you decide if that’s a positive or a negative here.
But what if there were a better option than McCoy? Just sitting at home, waiting for the call from a QB-desperate team with an otherwise pretty good situation? It’s time for the Skins to work the phones:
Holy hell, what a stinkpile. (Josh Johnson’s in there too.)
Hey, you know who’s a free agent and who is definitely a better QB than Colt McCoy? Colin Kaepernick. Whatever happened to that guy?
According to a source with direct knowledge of Kaepernick’s mindset and ongoing physical activities and preparation, Kaepernick wants to play. He continues to work out five hours per day, six days per week for one reason and one reason alone. He wants to play.
So Kaepernick wants to play, and the Skins have the cap space to pay him (especially considering any deal would be prorated for less than half the season). If Washington doesn’t at least reach out to Kaepernick, that’s football malpractice. And Skins fans ought to be angry that their team isn’t trying its hardest to win.
The Skins may need a quarterback beyond the remainder of this year, too. There’s no hint yet, and won’t be for a while, of how Smith will recover from his injury. The same injury, you’ll remember, that effectively ended Joe Theismann’s career. “Alex is going to be what, 34 this year?” Theismann said. “I was hurt at the age of 35.” (Smith turned 34 in May.)
Considering the size and composition of Smith’s contract (he’d count for $42 million in dead cap space in 2019, and has a massive $71 million injury guarantee), the Skins would be unlikely to pursue an expensive free agent if they happen to need one next season. What they could really use is a moderately priced veteran, someone who could step in and competently lead what’s already a pretty good team. Again, I know a guy.