ASHBURN, Va. — Mark Sanchez understands his history, both the good and the bad. And he knows one play gets discussed more than any other: the infamous “Butt Fumble.”
So, now that he’s the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins, Sanchez was ready when a reporter asked about his past — from the playoffs to one play in particular.
Like a good quarterback, he anticipated the topic — and tried to fool everyone in the room.
“I’m not following you,” he said with a deadpan delivery.
“What are you gonna do? It was a crappy play in a game we were getting our butts kicked. … Who cares? It’s one play. You just move on. I prefer to remember the good stuff.”
Sanchez hopes there’s more good stuff in his future with Washington. Even if it’s for only four more weeks. The Redskins remain alive in the playoff race at 6-6. But Sanchez is their third starting quarterback in the last month.
Washington signed Sanchez on Nov. 19, one day after Alex Smith suffered a season-ending broken leg. Then, on Monday, Colt McCoy broke his right leg and that left Sanchez as the starter. Washington signed Josh Johnson on Tuesday to back up Sanchez.
Sanchez will make his first start since the 2015 season when Washington hosts the New York Giants on Sunday. He had not thrown a pass in a game since the 2016 finale before relieving McCoy on Monday night. He completed 13-of-21 passes for 100 yards and an interception vs. the Eagles.
Wednesday, just before Sanchez took the podium, he did what any new employee would: introduce himself to a member of the Redskins public relations staff. Even more important, he still must get to learn names and faces in the locker room.
It’s not an ideal situation for the Redskins. For Sanchez, though, it’s exactly what he wanted.
“You work for something, you pray for something and then it finally happens,” Sanchez said. “You don’t care what the circumstances are, you’re just happy to get a shot … It’s a great situation. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Both Sanchez and Johnson have some familiarity with the Redskins’ offense, but both are still being taught on the fly.
During a drill with running backs in practice Wednesday, passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell would give a quick verbal reminder at times about their responsibilities. O’Connell played behind Sanchez in New York. O’Connell will translate plays by letting him know what it had been called in New York.
“There’s a ton of carryover and that’s nice to have,” Sanchez said. “It’s really learning a slightly different dialect of a language you already know. Some words carry over. Some don’t. … It’s nice having people who have been around so it’s not a complete overhaul.”
The Redskins signed Sanchez in part because he has a 4-2 record in the playoffs, showing how he handles tense games. He started 62 games with the Jets, including six postseason games. But Sunday will be just his 11th start since the 2012 season.
“You just know what’s at stake,” Sanchez said. “Without that experience you never know. I remember my rookie year we were right here. I’m like, ‘6-6? We won a bunch of games in college, won a bunch of games in high school. Either we suck as a team or I’m playing crappy. This is all bad.’ I remember the older guys — the Nick Mangolds, the Alan Fanecas, the Bart Scotts — saying hang in there, trust the process. Go through your reads, make sure you throw to the right colored jersey, and we’ll be just fine.”
The key for Sanchez is adapting to not only a new offense, but new players and how they run their routes. He admitted after Monday’s loss that he didn’t know everyone’s names. He’s still learning.
“Don’t ask me their names now,” Sanchez said.