Watch closely, America. The Washington Redskins dazzling display of ineptitude is about to go full nuclear.
The Redskins lost last night in a 19-9 mud-slinger against the Minnesota Vikings. Nothing worked too well for the Redskins, even when they were holding Minnesota's offense to field goals in the red zone and keeping their offense within a one-possession game. A third-quarter stop of a Vikings' 4th-down QB sneak on the Minnesota 34 gave the offense an easy field to tie the game with a touchdown: it was 16-9 at the time.
This was one of only five passes Haskins attempted on the night, after stepping in for the injured Case Keenum, who was concussed at the end of the first half. While the offense was anemic with Keenum at the helm, it was downright stationary with Haskins, who only had 15 plays and two first downs on his six drives, while Keenum was able to string together 29 plays and 12 first downs on his three drives.
This, of course, isn't the first action that Haskins has seen this year, as he was inserted haphazardly into the Week 3 matchup against the New York Giants, to the tune of 17 attempts and three picks against a generally toothless Giants defense. To this point, Haskins has thrown four interceptions, taken four sacks, and completed 12 passes.
So things aren't going great!
We are far beyond a referendum on Haskins' career, as he's also seen one head coaching change between his two career NFL games -- circumstances that would break most rookie quarterbacks, especially those with as limited starting experience as Haskins had coming out of Ohio State. His tenure as a Washington Redskins began with an uncertain message -- the ex-HC Jay Gruden seemingly preferred Daniel Jones to Haskins -- and has offered nothing but uncertainty since. There has been little to no nurturing, no development, no clear investing in Haskins as the future of the franchise. He's just in the deep end, trying to stay afloat.
Should he stay there?
The development of rookie quarterbacks is a tricky line to walk, and every situation is different. Is the risk of significant injury greater for Haskins than the average rookie quarterback, in that he's a pocket passer behind an offensive line that's bleeding blitzers in pass protection? Does the importance of developing a rapport with his future wide receivers fade when you consider that he played with McLaurin in college? In that he was only a one-year starter in the Big 10, does he simply need more game reps, independent of the quality of those reps, to better acclimate to NFL speed? Will putting poor rookie film out into the world discourage potential head coach candidates from tethering their job security to Haskins' growth?
Some folks advocate for the "Start Him" plan in almost all avenues, believing that nothing improves a budding passer like live rounds in an NFL game. I see the point, and with Haskins especially, I think experience is critical for his development. If you were to leave Haskins benched for the remainder of the year, he will have lost much of the momentum he gained from finally starting, week in and week out, in his final year of college. If and when you put him on the spot in Year 2, there will be rust, growing pains, and bad habits that you could have eradicated in the back half of Year 1.
Others still staunchly believe that rookies benefit from sitting, acclimating first to the grueling practice/study/preparation schedule of the NFL before taking a starting snap. I see the point once again. The infrastructure around Haskins is feeble: besides McLaurin, they are lacking plus talent at all pass-catcher spots, and the running game is only average with Adrian Peterson running behind a Trent Williams-less bunch. Haskins' offensive system is almost undoubtedly going to change in Year 2, as Bill Callahan's interim staff is replaced with a new offensive mind -- so there's a warranted question about sticking your franchise's future out for a lame-duck two- month stretch of getting the brakes beat off him. That can shoot his confidence, his internal clock, his body -- a lot of things.
And Washington is mired in further muck, in that if Keenum remains sidelined next week, they can't even start Haskins by default! Third-stringer Colt McCoy was in the QB competition this year, and gives them another serviceable veteran option to protect Haskins from ever starting. So the choice can't even fall out of their hands.
It's also worth wondering who exactly is making the choice: is owner Dan Snyder or GM Bruce Allen relinquishing control of their rookie's development to Callahan, who is unlikely to be around once January comes knocking? If so, they could take the longer view that Callahan is unlikely to indulge in -- but then again, how comfortable can you feel that Snyder and Allen are in the driver's seat, considering the difficulties the Redskins had in valuing Kirk Cousins during his development as a fourth-round rookie into the efficient, downfield passer that just beat them on Thursday night?
Were it my call, I would keep Haskins benched for the remainder of the season. Colt McCoy is typically a scratch on gameday, but I'd start activating him to place him in the game in the event of a Keenum injury, as long as I thought I wouldn't be markedly damaging Haskins' confidence with the move. Gun-shy of the RGIII timeline, my first goal is to ensure Haskins doesn't get injured -- even for a non-scrambler, a young injury can really throw a kink into your developmental track. Furthermore, I cannot justifiably find enough value in force-feeding him starts on a listless team that's just waiting for its next head coach and a desperately-needed infusion of offensive talent. I think Haskins needs starts before he'll be good, so we may lose a fair bit in Year 2 of his career as well -- but Year 1 starts run too much of a risk of crippling him, that I'm willing to play the patient game and take this rebuild at the pace it deserves.
Oh, and also: I'd trade Trent Williams. C'mon now, fellas.