There’s going to be a lot of new for the Washington Football Team come 2021.
There’s going to be a new name for the franchise. There may even be new uniforms with it. There are going to be new faces that come in through both free agency and the draft. And there will also be a new quarterback.
After starting the season 1-3, new head coach Ron Rivera made the decision to switch his starting quarterback. Rivera made the call to send 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins—a player Rivera didn’t draft—to the bench in favor of a quarterback who was familiar with the offense he wanted to run in Kyle Allen.
When the announcement was made, there was reason to believe it was the right move. Haskins was reeling in confidence and execution, likely stemming from the old coaching staff throwing him into the NFL fires before he was ready. He was not able to push the ball down the field consistently the way the team needed him to, and as opposed to ruining his confidence for good, we on the outside figured this was a move to give Haskins time to sit back, breathe, and get comfortable again before regaining the starting job later in the season.
That’s what we thought. Then we saw that Haskins wasn’t even the backup to Allen in practice, and that’s when our eyes started to get wide.
Fast forward a bit and there have now been two instances where Rivera and Washington could have gone back to Haskins due to injury to Allen and in both instances the team chose to put Alex Smith in his place. Allen later returned as the starting quarterback, but this past weekend suffered an ankle injury that will keep him out the rest of the year. Once again Smith was the man they put into the game instead of Haskins. The biggest reason for that was because Haskins wasn’t even active on game day. He was a healthy scratch.
After the game, Rivera didn’t waste any time naming Smith the starting quarterback for the team’s Week 10 game against the Detroit Lions, and that is extremely concerning for Haskins. Though he said Haskins would be active as the backup, the fact that Rivera didn’t even let the next few practices play out with Haskins as a potential starter is not a good sign.
Then, there was this.
There were reports that Washington would have moved on from Haskins if they were offered the right trade before the deadline a few weeks ago, but that never came to fruition. Haskins now remains on the roster, but I would argue he won’t be on it for much longer, especially after a statement like that. Due to the situation Washington is currently in, barring Haskins doing anything damning off the field, they won’t be moving on from him before this season is done. But at this point, I would be shocked if Haskins is on this team as they go into training camp for the 2021 season.
If you’re still trying to figure out if you have a franchise quarterback on the roster in a QB room that consists of an aging veteran, a mid-round pick on his second team, and a young first-round pick from just a year ago, you’re basically just talking about the young first-round pick from a year ago and are saying “he ain’t it.”
Rivera went on the Rich Eisen show in the early days of November and said, “It's funny, I benched the guy and it’s like everybody thinks his career is over here in Washington. It’s not. There’s potential, there’s opportunity. The kid has an NFL arm, it's just a matter of him developing.”
It’s not over for Haskins, but it’s getting close.
The only way that can really change seems to be if Smith now gets hurt in front of Haskins. There have been reports and rumors of a lack of preparation, focus, and perhaps some work ethic issues that currently stand in the way of Haskins and the starting job. Rivera did say, “this is good for Dwayne. He'll get an opportunity to see how to truly prepare for a game as a starter and hopefully Dwayne will take it that way. This is an opportunity to learn and grow.”
I suppose that’s true, but Haskins was the starter before, and both Smith and Allen were both on the team. To me, that statement read more like an attempted spin on the situation. They were publicly open to trading him and now he’s still not their preferred option as they go into the second half of the season. And we’re supposed to think they’ll choose to invest in him beyond this year while having a top-five pick?
For as forward as Rivera has been about how disappointed he is in Haskins, I’d be surprised if they could get anything in a trade for him this offseason. The most likely path we’re on appears to be that Washington finishes this season with a top-five draft pick in range of a nice quarterback selection, and Haskins will be cut after just two years on his rookie deal.
Whose fault that really is, we don’t know. But what we do know is that continuing the path we’re on will lead to a split between Washington and Haskins—and it’s approaching a lot sooner than we thought it would.