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It’s supposed to be a new day for the Washington Football Team but for quarterback Dwayne Haskins, not much has changed. After starting the first four games of the 2020 season, Haskins was abruptly downgraded from QB1 to QB3.
Backup quarterback Kyle Allen will now start against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday with Alex Smith serving as his backup. In this scenario, we will likely no longer see Haskins step on the field again for the remainder of 2020.
If we’re being real, Haskins never had a chance in Washington. His uphill battle began in 2019 when he was drafted 15th overall by a coach (Jay Gruden) who reportedly never wanted him. It didn’t help that Gruden was also facing a make or break season with his job on the line. Neither is a recipe for success.
Due to Gruden being on the hot seat, he did everything he could to save his job from adamantly stating that Haskins wasn’t ready to play to suddenly throwing him into the New York Giants game to replace an injured Case Keenum with the team trailing 14-0 and expecting him to work miracles when he never took snaps with the starters in practice. As expected, that wasn’t his best performance or the showing that would support him being a capable leader of the team.
When interim head coach Bill Callahan took over after Gruden’s firing, he continued the narrative that Haskins wasn’t ready. Once his back was against the wall with two injured quarterbacks, he finally gave Haskins a chance to step in and carry the team for the remainder of the season.
Haskins didn’t have a perfect rookie campaign but he showed progress and growth each week.
Now enter the 2020 season, Ron Rivera is named the new head coach and appears to be a breath of fresh air for a franchise in turmoil. Despite a shortened offseason, he committed to Haskins as the starting quarterback and recognized him as a team captain.
All seemed well for his development under the Rivera regime until recently when it started to become clear that the head coach was losing his patience with his quarterback three games into the season.
After Haskins threw three interceptions in the game versus the Cleveland Browns (week three), Rivera made his displeasures known. When asked if there is a timeline for quarterback evaluation, he responded that guys want to win and there is a cutoff point.
As the Baltimore game approached, rumblings came out that if Haskins didn’t play better, he could be benched. He seemingly answered the call by improving his stats to 32/45 completions, 0 INTs, 314 passing yards (career-high) and a 90.4 passing rating.
His adjustments didn’t result in a win but it’s unfair to place the bulk of the blame on him for Washington’s woes. One consideration is that the team is made up of young players who are all learning a new system and how to navigate the NFL.
Additionally, when comparing the offense to defense, the offense has more new pieces including a clean slate of running backs, only two returning wide receivers in Terry McLaurin and Steven Sims, Jr. and a new left tackle with Geron Christian, Sr., who plays on a struggling offensive line. Yet, most of the pressure seems to be on Haskins to succeed.
Through four games, Haskins has produced a 1-3 record, 939 passing yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Nonetheless he learned just how short his leash was when his unexpected benching became public on Wednesday.
With the NFC East division wide open and Washington in second place, it seems that Rivera has shifted from the mentality of developing a football team to win now.
“This has been thought out by me for a while,” Rivera said. “To me, it goes back to the beginning of the schedule. We have four games coming up at the beginning that I was hoping to come out 2-of-4 going into a stretch where we play four NFC games, three divisional games—again where we can make some hay. Unfortunately, we’re 1-3.”
“We have three divisional games coming up, four conference games and I just felt based on the things that have gone on with Dwayne [Haskins Jr.], based on his development and where he is, we’re better off putting the ball in the hands of a guy who knows our system, a guy that’s been in our system for three years, backed up by a guy who’s been in our system before and who’s a little bit of a more accomplished quarterback,” Rivera continued. “This is not as much an indictment on Dwayne as much as it is an indictment on the situation and circumstances that we are in.”
Although Kyle Allen knows the system, he had his own struggles as a starter in Carolina. After a strong 4-0 outing, the team went on to lose seven out of nine games and Allen threw 16 interceptions. It’s hard to imagine that his performance will be different in Washington.
All in all, since Haskins arrived in Washington, there has been no patience for his development. He has played for three coaches under two different systems and before he really had a chance to prove himself for a full season, he has been benched four weeks in.
This gives the overall impression that the opportunity to be successful was never there for Haskins. Unfortunately, this is the story of so many black quarterbacks in the NFL.
As for the Washington Football Team, another promising quarterback bites the dust.