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Analyzing Redskins’ quarterback Colt McCoy

The QB Scho Show #4!

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Since Alex Smith’s unfortunate and gruesome injury, the Washington Redskins’ have been forced to roll with a backup quarterback as they fight to stay alive in the NFC East. How’s that working out for them? How will it work out against the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles?

I was joined by Mark Schofield on BGN Radio for The QB Scho Show #4 to break down Colt McCoy’s game in detail to find out just that.

From a schematic standpoint, both of us were surprised by the game-plan the Redskins’ rolled out against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12. What follows is a transcript of my thoughts on the matter. If you’re not a massive history nerd like me, don’t worry, there’s more football-only details in the rest of the article and in the show itself.

“During the Second Punic War which lasted over a decade in the late 3rd century, Hannibal had just crossed the Alps and smashed the Romans at the Battle of the Trebia and the Battle of Lake Trasimene. After those defeats the Romans knew they had to go in a different strategic direction, so they appointed a dictator whose name was Quintus Fabius Maximus Varrucosus.

Fabius developed the “Fabian Strategy”; having seen what Hannibal did to Roman legions in large scale pitched battles, he opted to not face him head on and rather engage in only smaller conflicts while attacking supply lines and utilizing a scorched earth policy that would make it difficult for the Carthaginians to plunder food supply and it made other supplies less accessible.

All those tactics are what we would know today as guerrilla warfare, some of those Fabius is given credit as the inventor of... For this Fabius is known as “The Delayer”.

This is the plan that stalled Hannibal’s rapid advance into Roman territory and eventually won the day for the Romans as Hannibal bogged down in Italy..

Now, you would think, with a backup quarterback, that Jay Gruden would employ a conservative strategy very similar to the Fabian Strategy. Limit the playbook, don’t extend yourself, so on and so forth, but what I saw when I turned on the tape against the Cowboys was that Jay Gruden was anything but a Delayer, in fact, I saw an run:pass balance that even before it became a two-score game in the 4th that was pass heavy and they were running a ton of vertical field stretching concepts.

They were wholly unafraid of what the downgrade from Alex Smith to Colt McCoy meant for them and are putting a lot of trust in McCoy, who isn’t some green young buck out there, he’s been around for a bit. But Mark I was very surprised and I’ll even say delighted because I’m all for not turtling up with a veteran backup and just going for it because you’ve got to try and give yourself a chance to put up points, the line is beat up so the ground game isn’t hitting like it was, so regardless of the result I was impressed by the aggressive mentality.”

The analytics back up what I saw from the Redskins on tape.

Alex Smith 2018 vs Colt McCoy Week 12 (per Next Gen Stats):

Average Intended Air Yards: 8.1 vs 9.0

Average Yards to Sticks: -0.9 vs +0.9

Aggressiveness: 17.7% vs 18.4%

That’s not to say that it worked out particularly well. McCoy posted a stat line of 24/38, 268 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. It was an up-and-down day with a couple costly turnovers. What did work to some extent, and the Eagles will have to defend against this, is the Redskins testing vertically with four vertical concepts and the variations therein.

The downside to this is that McCoy lacks the consistency in his decision-making, placement, and arm strength to chain these throws together throughout the life of a game. Wide open downfield opportunities were either passed up or missed and they were also exploited by the Cowboys’ defense.

The Redskins have no choice but to ride it out with McCoy as they cling on to relevancy in the NFC East, so they’ll have to live and die by his sword. That’s a dicey proposition, but one thing is for sure, the banged up Eagles secondary will be tested down the field.

You can hear the entire show with more analysis on the media player below or by clicking here if the player doesn’t load. FLY EAGLES FLY!

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