Football Team

Benching Haskins sends different message than other moves

Football Team

Dwayne Haskins went from possibly being Washington's answer at quarterback to serving as their third-stringer in just four games.

On its own, switching to Kyle Allen isn't totally shocking. Haskins has been, at best, fine in three of his four starts, and in the other, he was horrendous.

But when looking back on a lot of Washington's moves, both in the offseason and even more recent than that, directing Haskins to the bench sends a very different message than the one the organization has been sending since Ron Rivera came to town.

Take the franchise's choice not to sign Cam Newton when he was a free agent, for example. Rivera said back in July he wouldn't do so because he didn't want to "stunt [Haskins'] growth" and he had the desire to allow Haskins "to show us what he can or can't do." 

Has Haskins maybe shown more of what he can't do versus what he can? Sure. But if the former first-round quarterback was only going to get a month's worth of time to do so, why not just get Newton in the summer?

At that time, it seemed quite clear that the coach was comfortable bypassing Newton, who would've helped him win immediately, to watch Haskins grow and possibly help him win for longer.

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This goes beyond how Rivera and the team have handled the quarterback position, too.

When Rivera was asked in July about signing Antonio Brown, he shot down that idea. He mentioned that he preferred to give the young guys at wideout an opportunity to impress him. That was yet another future-over-now statement.

When the Burgundy and Gold released Adrian Peterson in September, meanwhile, he did so because of how other running backs like Antonio Gibson were performing. Rivera felt comfortable allowing Gibson, who was as unproven as Peterson is proven, assume a bigger role in the backfield even if it was a detriment to the offense to open 2020.

There are a few more. A couple of weeks ago, Rivera explained that he believed the elimination of the preseason hurt a few players in particular. The two players he named? Haskins and Troy Apke. Assuming Apke isn't demoted from his starting safety role this weekend, he'll have been given more time to work through his issues than Haskins.

The way Rivera has managed his timeouts and in-game strategy through Washington's first four meetings this season has even highlighted an eye toward the long-term development of his roster. He kicked a field goal in Arizona to ensure his offense wouldn't be shut out and has let clocks run out in Arizona in Cleveland so his squad would be healthier moving forward.

Now, the way the NFC East has unfolded has absolutely, positively shaped the transition from Haskins to Allen. For Rivera and the rest of his staff and team, it's a lot harder to sit and wait for a passer to develop when the rest of the division is flailing. They had no idea at the outset of the schedule that they'd be in the race with a 1-3 record.

It's also necessary to remember that this staff has had more than three appearances in September and one in October to evaluate Haskins. They've digested his every throw, his every read, since training camp, and watched his 2019 film back repeatedly as well. Whatever they've seen in all that footage and all that action, they clearly haven't liked.

However, it's very interesting how this decision comes now after the theme for so long has been win sustainably over win now. Washington no doubt believes Allen will do a better job of winning now. And, apparently, they've already essentially concluded that Haskins can't assist them in winning sustainably.

Haskins' window to do so wasn't as wide open as expected. But then again, there aren't many wide open windows in the NFL to begin with.