In the eyes of another career backup quarterback, Colt McCoy checks the two most important boxes for the position.
“I’ve always felt that being able to come on the field and fill in for somebody, you need to make good decisions and have some mobility,” Matt Cavanaugh told The Post. “Colt has both of those qualities.”
McCoy will start Sunday for the Giants against the Seahawks unless Daniel Jones makes a miraculously fast recovery from a hamstring strain. Cavanaugh, whose 13-year playing career included a Super Bowl ring on the bench with the 1990 Giants, has spent more time around McCoy than any other NFL coach, including four seasons as Washington’s quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator.
So, what would Cavanaugh emphasize in an offense geared toward the 34-year-old McCoy?
“I’m not going to say they have to change anything in their game plan,” Cavanaugh said. “He has very good mobility for a guy who is as strong as he is. Don’t sleep on his arm strength.
“The Giants want to run the ball. I would use him in the play-action game. He’s very good at the play-fake. As witnessed Sunday, he can convert some third downs for you because he knows how to read a coverage.”
The in-season improvement of the Giants offense coincides with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett dialing up more run-pass-options (RPOs) for Jones, who is the team’s leading rusher with 403 yards. The impact of the injury decreases if McCoy can keep defenses honest with his legs.
“He did that for us in Washington,” Cavanaugh said. “Alex Smith was running some RPOs coming out of the Kansas City offense and we incorporated a lot of what he was doing into our offense. Colt was backing him up and got a lot of that experience, too. He can absolutely do the RPO game.”
A hallmark of Joe Judge’s coaching staff is tweaking schemes to fit different players. Case in point: More power and fewer outside-zone runs with Wayne Gallman than with Saquon Barkley.
But Garrett called a RPO and a bootleg run for McCoy in fourth-quarter ball-security mode against the Bengals.
“Jason called our offense off the same play sheet the same way and Colt executed it,” Judge said. “Colt has a history of running the ball. You can put the ball in his hand and put him on the edge and let him run around and throw the ball, or sit him in the pocket. There is not much we have to change in the offense. Colt is very good as far as adapting to different things.”
McCoy was 1-3 as a fill-in starter in 2014 and 0-3 since then. All but seven of his 28 career starts came as a rookie and second-year player under then-Browns head coaches Eric Mangini and Pat Shurmur.
Washington still had playoff hopes when McCoy replaced the injured Alex Smith in 2018, but those crumbled when McCoy broke his femur just above the ankle. A grueling recovery included three surgeries.
“There were some mishaps along the way,” Cavanaugh said. “I saw every day the frustration of, ‘Cav, it just doesn’t feel right. I’m doing all the rehab and it’s not right.’ It took a long time, to the point where he tried to come back early and couldn’t quite do it.
“He battled his a– off and never stopped believing in himself. I never doubted his toughness, but to watch it happen and see him recover, it puts a stamp on everything I ever thought about how committed he is to helping his team win.”
Judge cites Giants practices where McCoy leading the scout-team creates fits for the starting defense. That was his reputation in Washington, too. Can he do the same to one of the NFL’s worst defenses against the Seahawks?
“He’s looking at his role as, ‘You call me a backup, but I know I can play and I want to help this team,’ ” Cavanaugh said. “If Daniel comes back this week, Colt is still a great guy to have around. If Daniel doesn’t play, Colt will play well and the Giants will be glad they got him.”