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Jon Gruden on Redskins starting Colt McCoy over RG3: ‘He deserves the football’

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The Washington Redskins season of seemingly directionless dysfunction took another left turn Tuesday when it was learned that Colt McCoy has replaced Robert Griffin III as the team’s starting quarterback and will be under center Sunday when the team faces the Indianapolis Colts.

One person who believes starting McCoy over RG3 is the best option the team has at the moment is ESPN “Monday Night Football” analyst Jon Gruden, who just so happens to be the brother of Redskins head coach Jay Gruden.

Gruden made an appearance on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” program Wednesday and argued that McCoy has earned a chance to start again, specifically given how he performed well when he was playing for the injured RG3, including a thrilling, unexpected overtime 20-17 upset win over the Dallas Cowboys.

“But Colt McCoy deserves a little credit for being 2-0 in the games that he played in,” Jon Gruden said, via D.C. Sports Bog. “He completed 36 out of 42 [passes]. We saw him on ‘Monday Night Football.’ I’m anxious to see how this kid can play, because he deserves the football.”

In his two starts, the win over the Cowboys and a 19-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans the previous week, McCoy was solid, going an effective 36-42 passing for 427 yards with one touchdown and one interception. McCoy’s stats are the very definition of a quarterback serving as a game manager, something Kirk Cousins was not when filling in for RG3.

Robert Griffin III, meanwhile, has been anything but a game manager. Often erratic, RG3 has gone 83-119 passing (69.7%) for 869 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions and four fumbles in five games, with the team going 1-4 in those starts.

Gruden was asked why there has been such a precipitous drop in success from RG3’s magical rookie season. Gruden mentioned play-calling and how Griffin hasn’t improved his overall game to adjust to defenses being better able and bettter prepare to defend him.

“They’re not running the plays that they ran his rookie year,” Gruden said. “I think the dive-option, the read-option, the read-option passes, I think the NFL has caught up with that. And if you don’t become an all-around quarterback, you’re going to struggle to sustain yourself. You’ve got to understand pass protections. You’ve got to be able to flourish in the pocket. And with the injuries, perhaps his mobility [decreased] and perhaps all the hits he’s taken have taken a toll on him. But he’s got to continue to develop as a drop-back passer. E.J. Manuel in Buffalo, who was a first-round pick, is going through the same thing. And it’s going to be a process.”

A process that may or may not occur with the Redskins. While it may be premature to say that RG3’s tenure as the team’s franchise quarterback is over, it certainly isn’t looking good for him in D.C., at least in the short term, especially with words like “bust” being tossed around in Washington along with his name.

Gruden’s thoughts, meanwhile, arguably could be attributed to loyalty to his brother. By defending the decision to bench Griffin and go with McCoy, it provides brother Jay with some familial cover. On the other hand, when looking at NFL analyst Gruden’s comments, there’s not much there with which to argue, so it doesn’t really matter where exactly he’s coming from with his thoughts on the Redskins mess.

(image credit: AP Photo/Tim Sharp)