Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

December 13, 2018 at 12:54 am.

Journeyman Johnson at QB for Redskins

In just a week, Josh Johnson went from playing in a charity basketball game in his hometown of Oakland to throwing his first pass in the NFL since 2011. To say it has been a whirlwind for the 32-year-old quarterback would be an understatement.

Johnson was signed by the Washington Redskins to back up Mark Sanchez, who himself was signed to back up Colt McCoy. Season-ending injuries to Alex Smith and then McCoy in back-to-back games left the Redskins scrambling. Down 40-0 to the New York Giants in an embarrassing offensive performance Sunday, head coach Jay Gruden turned to Johnson, who was so new he had to play a video game during the week to learn his teammates’ names and games.

It was garbage time at 5:31 of the third quarter when Johnson took over for Sanchez, but given an offensive line decimated by injuries his elusiveness at least allowed Washington to move the ball for two touchdowns and two two-point conversions. Johnson completed 11 of 16 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. He was not sacked. He ran for 45 yards on seven carries, including a touchdown. He will start Sunday when the Redskins (6-7) travel to play the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It is not Johnson’s first stint under Washington head coach Jay Gruden. He was with Gruden in Cincinnati in 2013 when he was the offensive coordinator there. It is one of 12 teams now that Johnson has been part of during his career.

“Ironically, Jay yelled at me enough out there to where it kind of stuck in my head on certain things on how he wants things done,” Johnson said. “Stepping back in here has kind of eased my way through the little things a little bit better. There are some things that have changed, but again my journey has put me in so many different systems I’ve learned a huge amount of football from a lot of great football minds.”

Now he will start a game with just a few days of practice under his belt and the Redskins’ season on the line. Even winning their final three games would not guarantee a playoff spot, though a weak NFC wild-card race still has them in it.

Johnson said that Jon Gruden – Jay’s brother and the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, who had Johnson in during the offseason – taught him to stay updated on trends throughout the NFL whenever he was between teams. That helped keep him be ready when injuries struck and Washington called.

“Josh played with or against everybody in the league, so for starters he knows everybody on the Jacksonville defense,” Jay Gruden said. “The big reason we wanted him is because of his familiarity with what we do. Being at Tampa (Bay), there’s some carryover and obviously being at Cincinnati for the length of time that he’s with us there’s a lot of carryover that he remembers and can handle. Now it’s a matter of honing in on his skillset and trying to come up with a plan to utilize his strengths.”

SERIES HISTORY: 7th regular-season meeting. Redskins lead series, 5-1 and won the last meeting 41-10 on Sept. 14, 2014. It is only their fourth games at Jacksonville in 24 seasons.