The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

Is Josh Johnson the Hero We Need?

If you had told me at the beginning of the season that going into Week 15, the Redskins would be fighting for a playoff spot after a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars with Josh Johnson at starting quarterback, I would have asked for whatever you were smoking and who sold it to you. However, this is not a drug induced thought, rather, this is the reality the Redskins face and it’s pretty unreal. After Alex Smith and Colt McCoy went down with broken legs and Mark Sanchez went full Sanchize, Johnson was thrown into the mix and has played surprisingly well above how everyone assumed he was going to play.

Nobody had any expectations for the ‘Skins going into Week 14. With Mark Sanchez starting at quarterback, it appeared as if the Redskins had thrown in the towel on the 2018 season, and his play confirmed that. Down 40-0 going into the fourth against one of the worst teams in the league is not an ideal situation for any team, especially one that is in the hunt for a playoff berth.

Lucky for Josh Johnson, this gave him an opportunity to throw his first pass since Obama’s first term. By this point in the game, despite a predictable, lackadaisical offense thus far, Johnson entered the game and provided the team with a nice spark, going 11-16 with 195 yards and two touchdowns – one on the ground and one in the air. The team still got trounced and his play could have been a result of the Giants taking their foot off the gas with the big lead, but Johnson was able to do something that the Redskins have struggled to do all year – he moved the ball.

This past Saturday, against the Jaguars, Johnson reminded me of Alex Smith earlier in the year when we were 6-3. He was not flashy. He only threw for one touchdown and it was a short 6 yard pass to Jeremy Sprinkle late in the fourth quarter; however, if there is one thing that he did that truly emulated Smith, it was his lack of turnovers and excellent decision-making. He threw no interceptions and his only fumble was recovered by the Redskins. The lack of turnovers prevented the Jaguars from gaining a big lead and allowed the ‘Skins to stay in it until the very end, which is all they needed to put the ball through the uprights as time expired.

Johnson’s heroics on Sunday brought me back to 2007 when we were in a very similar situation. The Skins were 5-7, emotionally drained from the death of Sean Taylor and a roster decimated by injuries. When starting QB Jason Campbell went out it looked like all hope was lost. Joe Gibbs turned to backup Todd Collins, who waited longer than Johnson between NFL starts, going ten whole seasons.

Collins lit a spark in the team that ultimately grew to a bonfire as they won their final four games to make the postseason. While that team was quite average and they got blown out in their first playoff game, it was still special to watch a team that looked left for dead climb their way back into the hunt. Perhaps that is what we will see this year?

The Redskins final two games will be difficult victories without a doubt. They are facing the Titans and Eagles, both teams that need wins to keep their postseason hopes alive. As awesome as it was to see a Redskins victory last week, it is important to keep in mind that the Jaguars may be the most offensively inept team in the league as they accounted for only 20 passing yards on the day.

It would not surprise me at all if this last game was a fluke and the Redskins get clobbered in their final two matchups. However, it is easy to forget what this team is capable of, just look earlier in the season before the injuries. With motivation as a playoff spot is in sight, perhaps this team will regain some of that early season swagger. For the Redskins to win, Josh Johnson does not need to light the league on fire, but he must play smart football and limit his turnovers.

If he can do that, then the Redskins may, just may, have a chance to extend their season.

– Jake

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