Here's five takeaways from Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy's media session with reporters on Tuesday, November 20, 2018, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
1. He's not ready to think about his journey to being in this position right now
It's not exactly prudent to reflect on your career when you've got three days to prepare for your first game starting in almost four years. That's the task for McCoy, who saves his evaluation process for after the season.
The other side of being thrust into his position with the Redskins is that it requires an unfortunate incident to have occurred. Alex Smith's injury is tough to digest, especially for McCoy, but his preparation throughout his career has put him in a position to succeed for the remainder of the season.
"I think for me, now is not a time to really kind of think about what got me to this point right here," McCoy said. "Now, it's time to play. I rely on a lot of the preparation I've put in the last several years when Kirk [Cousins] was here. Kirk never got hurt. He played well, but I was always ready to play. You know the same thing with Alex [Smith]. Now my preparation is going to be key this week, but at the same time, I'm fortunate that we've played Dallas once already this year so I've been through that game prep, that preparation. I mean it's a huge game let's be honest. I think we'll be alright. We just have to go out there – I have to be calm, get playmakers the ball and hopefully we can put our best foot forward out there."
2. This is a different Cowboys team than the one he faced four years ago
To help put things in perspective, McCoy remembered what the Cowboys roster looked like the last time he played in Arlington, Texas.
"That was against [Tony] Romo, so it's been a while," he said.
Indeed, since leading the Redskins to victory over the Cowboys in 2014, there have been significant personnel changes to both teams. McCoy's benefit is that he's been able to prepare and game plan for Dallas twice each year since, and the team's matchup with the Cowboys several weeks ago helps tremendously on a short week.
"After watching tape of the Cowboys a few weeks ago when we played them and watching them again this week, they have two huge wins on the road and their defense is playing at a really high level," McCoy said. "You just don't see a whole lot of guys running open against them and they're pretty good against the run. They're well coached. They're disciplined. You don't catch them off guard too many times. We've got our work cut out for us.
McCoy's biggest concern is making sure he facilitates and gets the ball to his playmakers, referencing Adrian Peterson specifically, and not needing to do anything special.
"From my standpoint, I just have to go do what I'm coached to do." McCoy said. "Again, I've watched the Cowboys over and over the last couple days. They're just really good. They don't give up many points. I mean you look at all their games for the year and they're hardly giving up over 20 points ever. I know the challenges that their defense presents us and that's my biggest focus this week is; how do we be efficient? We have to run the football. Then when we have plays, we have to make them. A lot of that comes down to me and so I'm just doing my best to be prepared for those situations."
3. He spent time with Alex Smith yesterday and got some advice
Because the Redskins have carried only two quarterbacks on the roster this season, the relationship between Smith and McCoy has grown considerably. The emotional roller-coaster of seeing a good friend break his leg and then try to lead the offense to victory on the next drive is not exactly an easy thing to do.
On Monday, once Smith had finished surgery, McCoy went to see his teammate and reflected more on his relationship that's grown since Smith joined the team in March.
"All things considered, he's in pretty good spirits, bummed out," McCoy said. "Let me tell you, I can't say enough about Alex and the type of person he is, the friend that he is. I mean we spent countless hours together since he got here and helped him get a head start on the offense. It was just us for a while. You just don't ever want to see something like that happen but thankful I got to go see him and Liz and their family. Now I'm here and we're getting ready to go to Dallas tomorrow and I've got to get ready for that and we'll move on."
Any words of advice that Smith gave McCoy?
"Alex is a true professional," he said. "I mean, he wants the best for everybody and he just told me to go run with it, go have fun and just be me. That's what I'll try to do."
4. It hasn't been hard to stay motivated as a backup over the last couple of years
What made McCoy's transition into the Houston game look so seamless has been his tireless work ethic over the last several years. This is McCoy's fifth season in Washington, and with that comes an expert level of head coach Jay Gruden's offense.
That's invaluable for a backup quarterback in situations like the one he's been thrust into, but it requires a lot of work, dedication and motivation preapring for a job McCoy hasn't had in four years. Above all, his love of football has been paramount to keeping a positive and focused perspective.
"It's not easy but at the same time, I'm thankful for where I am [and] for the things that I've gone through," McCoy said. "Hopefully some of the ups and downs that I've been through in my career will help me now, help me in this situation. I think if I didn't enjoy football, if I didn't love football, I probably would have maybe been through. But I love the process. I love the challenge each week. I love getting ready to play. I love game planning. I've been with our coaches for a long time now. I'm very well coached and now I just get a chance to go do it. So, all those things will hopefully pay off."
McCoy also gave credit to the coaching staff for giving him new challenges each week, and who themselves have praised McCoy's professionalism helping the defense during the practice week with specific looks.
"You always know you are one play away and that's my responsibility to our team and I just never took that lightly," McCoy said. "I always wanted to be prepared and always be ready. Now, this is a different situation, you're going into a short week, you get a couple of walkthroughs, you're not practicing, we're not doing full speed reps this week. So, there are some challenges and hopefully we, especially me, I mean our guys are ready to go, but for me, I hope that I can eliminate the mistakes early, knock off the rust as fast as I can and really kind of settle in. For me, that would be huge."
5. He'll have some family members in town to see his start
First place. Dallas. Thanksgiving. The stage doesn't get any bigger for McCoy's opportunity, but it's in an ideal place for his friends and family members.
The Tuscola, Texas, native who spends his offseasons in Austin, where some family lives, too, will have the chance to be surrounded by familiar faces as he prepares for his 2018 debut.
"I know they'll be there. My family has been supportive of me for a long time," McCoy said. "As long as I've been up here, I've been the backup, they haven't come to as many games, but I know that my family and friends will be there and everybody will be watching. I try not to think about it too much, but I do know that I have been supported very well by everyone back home and especially from my family and I appreciate that."
"I've kind of turned my phone off this week just to focus on play," he added. "I certainly wouldn't change where I grew up, where I came from. Everyone there means so much to me and that's a special part of me. Right now, my focus is on this team and how I can help this team this week because I know they're counting on me. Our defense is playing great and we have playmakers on offense. My job is to do what I'm coached to do and hopefully we'll play well."