Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

December 06, 2018 at 1:12 am.

Sanchez gets chance with little prep time

Mark Sanchez was waiting for a call he could not have known was coming. Out of the NFL for nearly two years, his career by all rights should have been over.

But then the Washington Redskins lost quarterback Alex Smith and Colt McCoy to broken legs in the span of three games, all losses. Sanchez signed after Smith’s season ended. After one game watching McCoy play, he saw him go down, too. Now the Redskins, 6-6 and still in the NFC playoff hunt even as injuries ravage them for the second year in a row, turn to the former USC star whose career never lived up to expectations, but has a sudden chance to help a team in desperate need.

“In some ways two weeks ago, it was an unfamiliar position, but really historically it’s a familiar position and that’s what makes it fun,” Sanchez said. “You work for something, you pray for something and then it finally happens. You don’t care what the circumstances are. You’re just happy to get a shot. Not to prove anything to anybody else, but just for you, just for you, just for the guys I just met that I’ve grown close to in just a few days.”

After McCoy’s injury against the Eagles, a 28-13 loss on Monday night, he came in and went 13-for-21 for 100 yards and an interception. It was about what you’d expect from a quarterback who hadn’t played since 2016 when he was a backup in Dallas. He barely knows the names of his teammates after signing the day after Smith’s gruesome broken leg on Nov. 11.

“You probably have to be a little bit more simplistic in your approach, but you still can challenge the defense in different ways,” Washington head coach Jay Gruden said. “Mark may not be able to do so many different formations and motions and all of that stuff, but he can do some different things. I think running the ball will be key obviously and some play-actions getting him outside the pocket can be very beneficial and then the drop-back concepts that we have will be things that he is comfortable with.”

It’s a totally unfair position to put any quarterback in, but the Redskins don’t have a choice and Sanchez just wanted a chance. He’s immediately gone back into his quarterback routine – the one he used as the starter for the New York Jets early in his career. Sanchez has started two AFC championship games. He played at an elite level in college. He’s been in this position before and now has at least a few weeks of practice with his new teammates. It’s not ideal. But it’s all they’ve got.

“We know what’s at stake. We understand that this division is really up for grabs, so these next few games, especially the divisional games, carry a lot of weight,” Sanchez said. “Our focus and our energy is about playing against the Giants. We moved on from that last one and now we’ll get a chance to get some reps and be ready to play.”

SERIES HISTORY: 172nd regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 99-68-4 and the two teams have split a pair of playoff games. The Redskins have won four of the last six games, including 20-13 at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 28.