The decision to bench Dwayne Haskins in favor of Kyle Allen was not due to one moment or play in particular. Rather, numerous factors including the quarterback's play, as well as additional variables, led to Ron Rivera making a change.
Still, one of the last plays that many will remember of Haskins' first real stint as a starter was a fourth-and-goal from the 13 against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4. Rivera left his offense on the field as a test for the quarterback. Haskins threw the ball short of the end zone, giving him a failing grade.
It was just one play, but the decision was a microcosm of the season for Haskins. Big plays and deep shots down the field were scarce, and while a lack of weapons was a proponent, the element was clearly missing from his game.
Former Washington player Brian Mitchell believes that the timid nature Haskins displayed on that play and others were due to the pressure he was facing. Outside noise is persistent, but Mitchell feels that the quarterback was dealing with doubters inside as well.
“The outside noise is not just outside," Mitchell said on The Team 980's The Brian Mitchell Show. "Lot of the noise is coming from inside the building too.”
That is what Mitchell sees as a major contributor to the way Haskins played. Part of what allows a quarterback to take risks and deep shots is the confidence that one mistake won't make or break his standing on the depth chart. Mitchell noted that Haskins most likely did not feel that.
With calls for a change coming from the outside, and Ron Rivera noting that a change was never off the table, it's a possibility that Haskins didn't feel like he could risk an interception going deep because it could lead to him being placed on the bench.
So, on fourth down, he felt safer taking what was there for him rather than potentially adding a turnover to his resume.
“You know who throws a football to the end zone? The quarterbacks that know ain’t a damn thing going to happen if something goes wrong," Mitchell said. "Not the quarterback who is trying to learn and is scrutinized at every little turn. That quarterback doesn’t throw it into the end zone.
“Tom Brady will, Ryan Fitzpatrick don’t give a damn. Drew Brees will, Aaron Rodgers will," Mitchell said. "But a young quarterback who has been hearing nothing but scrutiny since he stepped into the city, he’s not throwing that ball into the end zone when no one shows no color.”
Inside the building in Washington, a mixed bag of views on Haskins is something Mitchell believes impacted the product on the field. His coach wanted him to take shots when needed, but the quarterback felt as if doing so could do more harm than help.
In the end, that led to exactly what Haskins didn't want to happen: a change in the starter.