There's an easy case to be made that Alex Smith should start at quarterback next week against Detroit.
There's a legitimate case to be made that Dwayne Haskins should start at quarterback next week against Detroit.
The truth, however, is that the situation isn't easy, and Washington head coach Ron Rivera is making the call he thinks is best for his team.
Going with Smith makes sense for Washington because it allows some sense of continuity, and as ridiculous as it sounds at 2-6, Rivera's squad is still just one game behind the pace for the NFC East title.
Smith almost played well on Sunday.
He threw for more than 300 yards and a touchdown, but he also tossed three interceptions. No longer is his story just about an incredible comeback from a gruesome leg injury. Now it's a football story, and that means Smith needs to play some good football.
Rivera's decision to stick with Smith shouldn't be a surprise.
Haskins started the first four games, and when Rivera decided it was time to make a change at QB, he didn't just bench the second-year passer out of Ohio State. The coached moved Haskins to third-string, clearly sending a message.
And now? The message continues.
While Rivera can say that Haskins isn't done in D.C., it feels like there is little chance the 2019 15th-overall pick plays home games at FedEx Field next year.
But you know who could? Alex Smith.
He's under contract through the 2022 season, and as quarterback contracts skyrocket, Smith's 2021 salary cap number of $23 million doesn't seem too outrageous. Plus it's well documented how much Smith's mentorship help shaped Patrick Mahomes; maybe a similar situation could unfold next year in Washington's quarterback room.
The argument to play Haskins is to get a full evaluation of his abilities. Listen closely to Rivera, especially how he stresses that Haskins got 11 weeks as the unquestioned starter, and it seems clear the evaluation has already happened.
People want to talk about the quarterback of the future, and while it's highly possible that player isn't currently on the roster, don't just assume Smith isn't part of the future quarterback equation. In some capacity anyway.
Can the same be said for Haskins? In any capacity?
And if it can't, then maybe Rivera's decision was way easier than anybody actually realizes.