Washington’s Dilemma; Not Rushing to Judgment on Haskins
Although the Redskins dropped to 1-7 in Minnesota, fans got another opportunity to have a look at rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Unfortunately, for the second time this season, he entered the game at a disadvantage. Haskins only got a shot because of Case Keenum’s injury and, similar to the game against the New York Giants, he had the task of bringing back a team that was trailing.
Haskins went 3/5 for 33 yards passing and threw a costly interception with two minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter and trailing 16-9. Haskins’ former OSU teammate, Terry McLaurin, was seemingly open on the play with room to run on the Vikings 16-yard line, when a high pass bounced off McLaurin’s fingertips. Despite a valiant effort by their defense, in the end, that play would cost the Redskins an opportunity to tie the game up.
Before the game even concluded, many fans on social media immediately deemed Haskins a bust and a wasted draft pick. What seems to have escaped the Haskins bashers is the lack of stability for the young signal caller. Gruden was fired after only a few games and Offensive line coach/Asst HC Bill Callahan was promoted as the interim head coach, which has forced Haskins to adjust to two dramatically different coaching styles. Furthermore, he’s only attempted 30 career passes and has had one full practice with the starting offense all season.
This seems to be a common theme for the Redskins. Jay Gruden clearly wasn’t happy when he was tasked with developing Haskins. This was also the case with former HC Mike Shanahan, who favored drafting Ryan Tannehill or acquiring a veteran, as opposed to trading up for RGIII.
Some in the national media have fueled fans’ anger, stating that Haskins may never be a starting caliber signal caller in the NFL, while others believe he needs on-the-job training in order to get a true litmus test of the OSU QB’s ceiling.
Per Al Galdi of The Morning Blitz,
“Enough of this with Case Keenum and Colt McCoy, you are on a road to nowhere with these guys, go with Haskins!”
Dwayne Haskins is learning nothing from watching bad QB play and acclimating himself to a team with no true identity on offense. It’s great that Callahan is dedicated to the run game, but this team simply doesn’t have the talent to ride that mentality to consistent wins. There’s been reference to the example of the Kansas City Chiefs sitting Pat Mahomes behind Alex Smith and the Packers sitting Aaron Rodgers behind Brett Favre while they learned. The idea of a rookie QB learning from a veteran is a solid plan. However, having a competent veteran is a prerequisite.
As ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick, who served as Washington’s Pro Scout and later Director of Pro Personnel recently mentioned,
“It’s the coach’s job to get players prepared and ready”.
At the conclusion of the loss in Minnesota, Callahan made it clear that Keenum is still the unquestioned starter and Haskins will only play if Keenum is unable to clear concussion protocol.
Committing to Haskins and giving him the reins as the Redskins’ franchise quarterback seems to be the only move that makes sense at this point. Continuing to use the narrative that Haskins isn’t ready and has trouble reading defenses, while sitting dead last in the division at 1-7 is ludicrous. This team isn’t as close as Bruce Allen continues to state and the organization needs to embrace a full rebuild.
Again, it’s is the job of the coaches to develop Haskins and get the most out of him during the final stretch of the 2019 season. Case Keenum has clearly showed he can’t stay healthy and that has always been the story for Colt McCoy. Taking a page from Ohio State and customizing the play calling, in the short term at least, is an effective way to put Haskins in position to have success.
A lot has been made of protecting Haskins’ confidence and not permanently damaging him by “throwing him to the wolves”, so to speak. The cliché applies at this point that the Redskins have “nothing to lose”. Once and for all, committing to Haskins as the unquestioned starter and making it clear to the team that he’s their franchise quarterback seems obvious. Both Keenum and McCoy are free agents and the thought of Alex Smith making a miraculous return in 2020, at 36 years old, after enduring 17 surgeries is just fantasy.
The situation with Josh Rosen is a comparison fans should consider. Rosen was selected 10th overall by Arizona in 2018 and many believed he too was drafted too early. He did get an opportunity to start 14 games with disappointing results. Rosen was 217 for 293 2,278 passing yards with 11 TD’s and 14 ints. The Cardinals would change coaches in 2019 and they selected Kyler Murray with the 1st overall pick. Arizona would ultimately trade Rosen to Miami.
The Rosen situation is a valid comparison because the next Redskins coach might not be sold on Haskins. If Haskins continues to play spot duty based on Keenum’s health status, next year’s coaching staff will have little film on the rookie to evaluate. Washington could be in line for a top 5 pick in the 2020 draft, but selecting another quarterback that high seems unlikely, considering the list of needs they have. Investing in a mid-round QB or signing a legit veteran signal caller is more likely.
Testing a player’s will under adversity and scrutiny is how we weed out the bad, average and the great signal callers in the NFL. As fans, we need to realize that this team could look dramatically different next year, personnel-wise. Further delaying the inevitable and denying Haskins the right to gain valuable experience could truly derail any hope for the quarterback, but most importantly the immediate future of the Redskins organization.
A new coach will likely be hired next year, with a new offense installed and might want his own quarterback to run his offense. Accruing 8 more games of film, will help the next coach figure out his fit and how to effectively develop Haskins.
Fans are clearly divided on the subject of sitting or playing Haskins. Once thing is certain, the team needs a leader to direct this offense for the foreseeable future. The only way to find out if Haskins is that player, is to let him take his lumps and gain cohesion with his teammates as the franchise quarterback that he was drafted to be.
By Adam Aniba
Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport
More from the Burgundy and Gold Report….
*A New Look Offense for Washington and How Haskins Factors In
*Establishing an Identity Starts with Admitting There’s a Problem
*The Emergence of Terry McLaurin; The Buckeye Shines Bright
*Steven Sims Jr. Spotlight
*The Tar Heel Steal