What exactly is it that Washington Football fans want? The organization hires Ron Rivera and it’s all about “in Ron we trust”. Four games and one quarterback change later, it’s “what is Ron Rivera doing” and “Rivera has got to go”. I admit that during this three-game losing streak, I have questioned more than a handful of situational play-calls on both sides of the football. Particularly on the offensive side of the football. Yesterday, second year starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins was demoted to third string, and third year quarterback Kyle Allen was promoted to starter and Alex Smith to back-up. Washington is coming off its third straight loss by double digits and is looking for a spark offensively that can reenergize the team going forward. Fans have been in an uproar about the decision and I honestly don’t understand why if Haskins wasn’t giving them legitimate chances to win football games.
The first thing Haskins’ apologists will say is “he only got to play four games in a new system and didn’t have a preseason”. I agree with that. However, my counter to that statement is he had every starter repetition and four games to show his teammates and coaches he was improving. Not only is it clear Haskins wasn’t giving them a fighting chance, it was also abundantly clear that he was regressing rather than progressing. Apologists will refute that by saying “look at his stats in the previous game against the Ravens…he got better and didn’t turn the ball over”. The counter to that statement is things aren’t always what they seem. Scott Turner tried to scheme up the best game plan possible to put Haskins in position to succeed. Haskins completed a bunch of slants and quick screens, but when he was asked to make a throw in pressure situations, he was unsuccessful the vast majority of the time. That has been a recurring theme that has gotten old to the staff and to the personnel on the field.
This quarterback change doesn’t necessarily spell the end for Haskins, but he clearly has to make some changes by having some accountability. Coach Ron Rivera has made a statement not only by benching Haskins, but by demoting him to third string. This should tell fans that something caused Haskins to fall out of favor with Rivera. I challenge Washington fans to think objectively about this situation. If you are a Haskins fan first, you have every right to be upset. If you are a fan of the Washington Football Team, you should be ready to see change, because up to this point, you have seen much of the same from previous years.
It’s a misconception that Haskins being benched is the coaches saying “it’s Haskins’ fault the team is losing”. That’s false and an obtuse way of viewing it. It’s the coaches deciding that they want to win and Washington fans should appreciate that. Is Kyle Allen Joe Montana? Up to this point he hasn’t proven to be, but then again neither has Haskins. What fans do know about Allen is that at the very least, he knows what he is doing, and can execute what they are asking him do from a MENTAL standpoint. Haskins’ physical tools are far superior to Allen’s, but that doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to maximize that ability.
Another thing about this move that was telling for me is that Alex Smith is now one play away from playing in a live NFL football game again. I have mixed emotions about it. On one hand, I’m afraid and very skeptical about his safety. On the other hand, I feel that he deserves a chance to play again after working so hard to get back to live action after coming so close to losing his leg, and even dying. Alex is making 20 million dollars a year, and I am willing to see the team eat that just to have him on the roster and in the locker room. I don’t want to see this team in position where they are relying on him to be successful. Would it be a great story, absolutely, but is it even worth it becoming a reality? To him, it is, but sometimes, you have to save players from themselves.
I sincerely challenge Washington fans to look at the big picture. If Haskins wasn’t able to execute the plays appropriately, how could this team evaluate the talent around him effectively? Maybe the coaches felt he wasn’t doing enough. Quarterback is a position that is about more than just having a big arm and being 6’4. You have to be able to develop into the position and Rivera determined Haskins wasn’t developing fast enough. He decided to make a change to a player he is familiar with and that knows what he and offensive coordinator Scott Turner’s expectations are. Haskins will either learn from this and be better for it, or he will give up and succumb to adversity. Ask yourselves, would you want someone who gives up that easily leading your football team? We will see what exactly Haskins is made of after this turn of events. Hopefully, he comes out of this a better quarterback, and better leader when all is said and done. As you were…
Photo Credit: Elijah Walter Griffin Sr/Washington Football Team