Judging by the article he wrote for The Players’ Tribune that hit the Internet on Tuesday, former Texas Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy is as confident as ever, as physically strong as ever and is gunning for Kirk Cousins’ job.
McCoy will turn 30 before the start of the 2016 NFL season, his third with Washington and seventh overall. But in many ways, he feels as if his career is just beginning. Over the last four seasons with Cleveland, San Francisco and Washington, he played in just 13 games. Last year he attempted 11 passes.
Why Jerry Jones and the backup-QB-seeking Dallas Cowboys didn’t give the Tuscola-born-and-breed McCoy a run as an unrestricted free agent is another one of those Jones-the-GM head-scratchers.
McCoy, though, is happy, very happy. He writes that a major reason for his happiness was re-signing earlier this month with Washington, a three-year deal that will continue the one thing he didn’t have in the NFL his first three years with the Browns and then a lone season with the 49ers: continuity.
McCoy wrote that the opportunity to play under Washington coach Jay Gruden guided him two years ago to the Cowboys’ NFC East rival. With the Browns he watched Gruden, then the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive coordinator, help develop former TCU quarterback Andy Dalton.
“I thought he could help me,” McCoy wrote. “I knew I wasn’t going to start. In fact, that quarterback room was pretty crowded. But this was an opportunity to get better, so I took it.”
That quarterback room is a little less crowded now after Washington released former Baylor Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. McCoy is now just one twisted ankle or bruised ribs away from getting back in the huddle. And if you think Washington is married to Cousins, who had a breakout season last year, throwing for 4,116 yards and 29 touchdowns while winning the god-awful NFC East with a 9-7 record, take a closer look.
Washington refused to break the bank on Cousins and put the non-exclusive franchise tag on him — as opposed to the exclusive tag — meaning Cousins was free to negotiate with any team willing to give up two first-round picks for him. Cousins quickly signed the franchise tag and will take home a chunk of change, $19.95 million in 2016, but Washington isn’t tied to him long-term if he regresses. Imagine Green Bay or Pittsburgh or New England or New Orleans allowing other teams to negotiate with their quarterback.
McCoy, always the consummate teammate, will never come right out and say it, but he sure sounds like a player ready to get on the field.
“I’m entering my third season in the same system and that’s something I’ll never take for granted in this league again,” McCoy wrote. “My first five years in the league, I had to learn five different offenses. Each offense is basically its own foreign language — it really takes time to master. But the opportunity to really familiarize myself with Jay’s system has given me a comfort level I haven’t experienced since I was in college.
“As a result, I’m the best football player I’ve ever been. Physically and mentally, I’m ready to contribute. I’ve spent every waking moment studying the offense and getting every detail down. I also watched carefully how our receivers run their routes, seeing where they like the ball. Everything clicks now.
“…But I also prepare like I’m going to start, because that’s the only thing I know. I treat my work with the scout team like it’s a game. It can be a little draining, all that preparation without knowing when you’ll get a shot. But it’s also comforting knowing with certainty that I can step in (and) make a difference when the time does come.”
In the article, McCoy also describes in great detail the BCS national championship game against Alabama at the Rose Bowl. An unfortunate hit to McCoy’s right shoulder as the Longhorns were marching toward the end zone on their opening possession deadened his arm and knocked him out of a game the Crimson Tide would go on to win.
McCoy explains that he sustained severe nerve damage and that there was real concern if he would ever play football again.
“Nobody really understood the severity of my injury,” McCoy wrote. “Making it more difficult was the fact that I appeared to be fine if you looked at me. I remember going to the combine, and how frustrated I was because I couldn’t really do anything. People thought I was trying to hide something by not working out — trying to preserve my stock. They acted like I was making up some excuse. I was so fed up with it all that even though I hadn’t trained for it, I went out and ran the 40-yard-dash, limp shoulder and all. It didn’t go well, naturally, but that wasn’t the point. I just wanted to do something.”
When the Browns drafted him in 2010, they did so with the plan of not playing him as a rookie to allow him to fully recover. But after both of Cleveland’s quarterbacks got hurt, McCoy was forced into action too early. And things didn’t go well. Along with the constant instability of the franchise, McCoy described his time with Cleveland as “an education.”
Now he might just give all of us an education in perseverance.