Jets and Redskins a study in contrasts at quarterback

August 13, 2018
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New York Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) warms up with teammates Sam Darnold (14) and Josh McCown (15) before a preseason NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
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New York Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) warms up with teammates Sam Darnold (14) and Josh McCown (15) before a preseason NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Unsure of Kirk Cousins’ future, the Washington Redskins scoped out the quarterback market and saw a lot of unknowns.

They knew Minnesota’s Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford were set to be free agents, scouted top draft prospects Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen, had veteran backup Colt McCoy under contract and were well-aware Kansas City had first-round pick Patrick Mahomes II waiting behind longtime starter Alex Smith. Washington turned its attention to the Chiefs, acquired Smith, signed him to an extension and handed him the keys to the starting job.

“We needed a guy that could come in here and stabilize this whole situation,” senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams said. “And we felt like that one guy that can do that was Alex Smith.”

The Redskins on Sunday hosted the New York Jets for the first of three joint practices, the scene of a contrast between two organizations that took divergent paths to solve their quarterback situations. While Smith is established as the guy for the Redskins, the Jets took Darnold third overall, signed Bridgewater, re-signed incumbent Josh McCown and put them into a three-way competition that makes training camp and the preseason a day-to-day evaluation.

“It’s just a matter of splitting up the reps and when to give what guy what and what guy the other stuff and who sees what in practice and who’ll see what in a game,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said Sunday. “They’re all different types of quarterbacks. If you have to play one in a game, you always try to tailor things to what they can and can’t do. We’re just tailoring things right now and finding out more about them each day.”

Redskins coach Jay Gruden remembers having Andy Dalton as a rookie QB when he was Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator, but that was different because the 2011 second-round pick got all the first-team snaps as the prospective starter. Bowles is playing the delicate balancing act of splitting up practice time between Darnold, Bridgewater and McCown and could wait until after the fourth preseason game to name his starter.

Smith didn’t play in Washington’s preseason opener at New England and could see only limited work Thursday against the Jets. Meanwhile, New York rotated all three of its QBs against Atlanta, and Darnold could see the most action moving forward after an impressive debut in which he was 13 of 18 for 96 yards and a touchdown.

“As he plays, he gets experience,” Bowles said. “I can get a fair evaluation of Josh. I’ve seen him play quite a bit. I’ve seen Teddy quite a bit. Sam’s the one that has to catch up.”

Darnold got plenty of first-team snaps Sunday — taking the majority of the reps for the first time this summer — and got to show what he could do in the rain against the Redskins’ first-team defense. With buzz building up about the Jets’ QB of the future, the more work he gets against the NFL’s best on his own roster and others should show how ready he is to be their signal-caller of the present.

“Working with the first team, it just gets me more comfortable with those guys, and I think they get more comfortable with me and the way that I like to play,” Darnold said. “But no matter who’s out there, you’ve got to run the play.”

Bowles wouldn’t reveal his plans for the second preseason game other than to say “all quarterbacks need to be ready to play.” After starting 13 games last year, the 39-year-old McCown figures coaches have a pretty good idea of what he can do at this point, and Bridgewater is cherishing any chance he can get.

“I look at it as I love the opportunity to show what I can do as a quarterback and as a leader,” Bridgewater said. “Whether it’s two reps or eight reps, I want to maximize and capitalize (on) each rep and take advantage of it.”

Gruden’s job with Smith as the starter and McCoy as the backup is more clear-cut. He’d still like to get Smith enough action to be comfortable for Week 1 but doesn’t envy the situation Bowles is in with three starting candidates and only one football.

“They’re in competition,” Gruden said. “They have three very good quarterbacks. They’re trying to find out. So it’s probably difficult for them to get them all equal reps and see what they can do.”

NOTES: The Redskins say RT Morgan Moses is OK after he was knocked down in a post-play fight during 11-on-11 drills Sunday. .... Washington OT Ty Nsekhe aggravated what the team called a lower-extremity injury. ... WR Robert Davis is out for the season with knee and leg injuries. ... Bowles said RB Isaiah Crowell (concussion) and OT Kelvin Beachum (foot) were among the Jets players left at home.


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