Halfway through the preseason, Redskins no closer to a decision on starting quarterback

The Washington Redskins were supposed to have the most highly-anticipated quarterback battle this offseason. A three-way affair -- battled out through the preseason until a victor was declared. When the Redskins were forced to release a depth chart earlier this month, longtime backup Colt McCoy was named the starter, but through two preseason games, he has not played a snap. 

We are halfway through the preseason, and the technical favorite to win this competition has not yet taken the field. We know just as much about this quarterback competition as we did three months ago. 

Just earlier this week, head coach Jay Gruden told Albert Breer of the Monday Morning Quarterback he would like to make a decision on the starting quarterback by the third preseason game, which is now just one week away. It doesn't seem like that's going to be possible, however.

Gruden did tell Breer that the veterans, McCoy and Case Keenum, are technically the favorites to win the job over rookie Dwayne Haskins

"I'd say the vets probably have a little bit of a leg up on him, just because they're vets and they've played," Gruden said. "Case has played a lot of football, of course he's new to the system. Colt's an experienced guy in the system, he's coming off that injury, we just have to see how he is running around. He got a little nicked today on it, from a confidence standpoint, from a stability standpoint." 

"But they have a little bit of a leg up on (Haskins), just because of their knowledge of third down and red zone concepts. There's a lot Dwayne still has to learn, but he can get there."

Keenum is the one who has started the first two preseason games, and he's played fairly well. In all, he's completed 7-of-16 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. He's kept drives alive and taken care of the ball -- which is exactly what the Redskins want from their quarterback. 

With McCoy's lingering absence, many believe that he should be the favorite to start Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles, but does Gruden see it that way? 

Following the Redskins' 23-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night, a reporter asked Gruden straight up if McCoy would start the regular season even if he sits out the entire preseason.

"With Colt, it's all depending on his leg, that's all," replied Gruden. "And starting is not even in the equation right now until he's healthy. So once I get the word that he's 100 percent healthy, then we'll start talking about the competition. I know what Colt is, and what he's all about. He knows the offense -- but let's get him healthy." 

So, is the answer yes? It sounds like Gruden is not even thinking about the competition until McCoy is ready to go, and when he is, he enters the fray as the first-string guy. 

We know Gruden loves the underdog, and that's who McCoy is. The quarterback is entering his sixth season with a team, having started only six games in that time. What a story it would be if McCoy could win the starting job as a 32-year-old and produce a winning season. 

Earlier this year at the NFL combine -- before the Redskins acquired Keenum and Haskins -- a report from Ian Rapoport surfaced revealing that the Redskins were confident that McCoy could be their starter. Reporters then asked Gruden the next day why he was so confident in the former Texas legend. 

This is how he responded:

"I've been around him for five years and I could be really ignorant. I've just seen him throw the ball for five years in the offseason and in training camp, I know that he's been fired up to get an opportunity and when he finally got one, it's like letting an animal out of a cage, he ran right into the wall and got hurt and he's just gotta slow down and process, which he will, but I have total confidence. He's got a great knowledge of the system, he's comfortable with the guys that we have, he's a great leader, a great competitor, he can run, he can move, and he can make all the throws. But ... he's been hurt and hasn't done it, like you said."

"He's such a great competitor, he wants every play to work. Sometimes, plays aren't there, you just have to throw it away and live to fight another day. The play he actually got hurt on, the play was dead. He tried to scramble, cut up field, slipped and his leg hit the other kid's leg and he's out. It's not his fault, that's part of the reason you love a guy like Colt on your team, because of the great competitiveness, but I just hope he tones it down a little bit and throws it away from time to time."

McCoy threw for 372 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in three games before he went down with a broken fibula in Week 13 -- the injury he is still trying to battle back from. 

As for Haskins, he's the wild card in this situation. After a poor outing in the preseason opener, where he threw two interceptions, he rebounded on Thursday night. The former Ohio State star hooked up with Robert Davis for an impressive 55-yard touchdown, the first of his career. He clearly showed some progress in his second professional game, and you could tell Gruden liked what he saw. 

"Best part I liked was Dwayne handling the protection, he did a great job," Gruden told reporters after the game. "(We) challenged him, gave him some different looks and he adjusted to protection to get himself just that extra beat of time where he could look downfield, step into throw and throw a perfect ball to Robert Davis."

Some still wonder how much input Gruden and the coaching staff are going to have in this decision. Is it simply just going to come down to what owner Dan Snyder and team president Bruce Allen want?

The Redskins now have just 25 days to make a decision who will start on Sept. 9 against the Eagles. Knowing that, Gruden still says he's comfortable, and doesn't pay any mind to the ticking clock.

"I'm good right now," he said. "I think we got another couple weeks to go here, we got a lot of time still."

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