Listen to the Beltway Sports Bros. reaction to Washington's benching QB Dwayne Haskins at the Podcast Player below...
Who are the two most powerful figures in Washington, D.C.? Back in the '70s, '80s and early 90's the answer was easy, the President of the United States, and the starting quarterback, of the then, Washington Redskins. Fast forward to the present, and that question should now be phrased as, "Who are the two most polarizing figures?"
What was once a tongue in cheek statement, has now turned to disgust by Washingtonians. There are no official polls associated with Washington QB Dwayne Haskins, but scrolling through social media, it would seem that the majority of its fans want him out by a landslide.
This isn't breaking news, but Washington has been searching for a long-term answer at quarterback since Joe Theismann was Alex Smith'd back in1985. Maybe this time, Washington fans and coaches for that matter, should exhibit something we haven't seen in decades...patience.
It is easy to forget how raw and inexperienced Haskins is. The Washington QB started 14 total games at Ohio State. Haskins was a highly touted recruit coming out of Bullis (high school), where he passed for 5,308 yards and 54 touchdowns, as a 3-year starter. While at OSU, Haskins exhibited some patience of his own, waiting 2 years behind starter J.T. Barrett, just to get an opportunity to start. When he finally got his opportunity, all Haskins had to do was beat out eventual 2020 first overall draft pick, Joe Burrow, for that spot.
The point is, nothing has been handed to him. Haskins could've gone the path of least resistance, like Burrow, and transferred to greener pastures, but he didn't. Haskins stayed with Ohio State, exhibiting professionalism beyond his years. Haskins knew he was going to get a shot eventually, so he learned behind Barrett. Haskins did whatever he could to become a better player and teammate while patiently waiting behind the 4-year starter.
Anyone that has a set of eyes that watched him in college, could see that Haskins would need time to develop in the NFL. He played in an offense at OSU that does little to prepare their QB's for the next level. There isn't exactly a stellar list of NFL QB's that have come out of Columbus, OH as of late.
If you believe the rumors, the decision to draft Haskins with the 15th overall pick, came from ownership and not the "football people". Haskins was brought into a volatile situation out of the gate. His former HC Jay Gruden wanted nothing to do with him and made that clear, most notably to Haskins himself. Last year, Gruden was fighting for his coaching life and a rookie QB didn't fit into his plan for survival. Welcome to the NFL!
Once Gruden was relieved of his coaching duties after an 0-5 start, interim HC Bill Callahan was assigned with the unenviable task of keeping an already sinking ship from becoming fully submerged. There seemed to be an understanding from Callahan, and more than likely ownership, that the goal was to look to the future and find a place for Haskins. This was a turning point for the rookie QB.
Haskins finally had the support of his coaching staff, specifically first-year offensive coordinator, Kevin O'Connell. There was an obvious progression from game to game as Haskins started to absorb the offense. In a very short period of time, O'Connell had to learn to hide Haskins' weaknesses, but also to figure out his strengths, and expand on those.
Prior to his injury, in his final 2 games of the season against Philadelphia and NY Giants, respectively, Haskins had QB ratings of 121.3 and 143.2, with an average completion percentage of 74, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. Haskins' average completion went from 6.04 in his first 5 games as a starter and jumped exponentially to 9.1 in his final 2.
The decision not to bring O'Connell back, in favor of Scott Turner was puzzling. Haskins showed significant growth under O'Connell, albeit a small sample size, but the young coach’s proven ability to make him better was undeniable. Early in the offseason, it seemed like it was a forgone conclusion that HC Ron Rivera would retain O'Connell...until he didn't.
Why start from scratch? It would've been understandable if Rivera wanted a proven play-caller. As it turned out, Scott Turner actually had less experience than O'Connell. Turner only led Carolina's offense after Rivera was terminated halfway through the 2019 season. A decision like that makes you think that Rivera has never been fully behind Haskins and possibly not in his future plans, much like his predecessor.
Moving to the present, Rivera's words and actions back up that hypothesis. From only pointing out Haskins flaws publicly over the offseason, to threatening that he has a short leash, just earlier this week. No, Haskins has not yet played up to the position that he was drafted, but let's put some things in perspective. Last Sunday's game against Baltimore, was Haskins’ 11th as a starter...11th! In an unprecedented year with no offseason, a new coaching staff, and only 11 starts to his credit, what expectations should there really be?
On top of everything else, similar to last year, we are seeing growth from the young QB in a short period of time. In his first 3 starts this season, Haskins averaged 6.2 yards per completion. Last Sunday, against a stout Ravens, pass defense, Haskins averaged 7.0. No, it’s not a stunning turnaround, but we are seeing progress.
Yes, Haskins had 3 interceptions in Week 3 against Cleveland, but it should be mentioned that he had none in Weeks 1, 2, or 4, and holds a 4TD/3 INT ratio. No, Haskins stats will not blow anyone away, but outside of Week 3, he has taken care of the ball, has done what the coaching staff has asked of him, and has not put the defense in positions to fail.
If you think about it rationally, you really can't ask much more from a young QB at this stage in his career. It would be beneficial for all parties involved in the Washington coaching staff, and its fans would return the favor.