Football Team

Cooley: Testing Haskins on 4th and 13 was 'pure stupidity'

Football Team

Once Dwayne Haskins was benched Wednesday and demoted all the way to third-string quarterback by Ron Rivera, everyone wanted to figure out what the exact reason was for the move. 

Sure there were plenty of examples to pick from. There are the reported bad habits in practice, Kyle Allen's familiarity with the offense or the NFC East being up for grabs and the rest of the roster not tolerating mistakes from the quarterback.

Everything surely played a part, but was there one that took precedence over all of them? Whichever one you choose, just make sure it's not his failed "test" on 4th and 13 against the Ravens in Week 4. Former Washington tight end Chris Cooley wasn't a fan of that decision by the coaching staff. 

"I don't like that they had a quiz for Dwayne Haskins," Cooley said on Kevin Sheehan's podcast. "In a critical moment of the game, they shouldn't have been going for it on 4th and 13, it was pure stupidity. 'We should get some points here. No, no, we need to quiz Dwayne."

Early in the fourth against Baltimore, Washington was on the Ravens' 13-yard line with a chance to make it a two-possession game. Instead of kicking the field goal, Rivera had his offense go for a touchdown. It was a questionable decision, and Haskins ultimately checked down and threw a short pass to Isaiah Wright. He was forced out of bounds well before the endzone. 

 

Warranted or not, Haskins failed his "test" because he didn't take a shot at the endzone. After a dreadful game in Week 3 where he turned it over four times, including three picks, Haskins spent most of Week 4 checking the ball down and limiting his mistakes. 

It worked in that sense, but it didn't necessarily help the Washington offense put points on the board. 

"They went into a gameplan where they were going to run 10 screens and they were gonna throw the ball behind the line of scrimmage 14 other times," Cooley said. "They went into a gameplan understanding the guy wasn't ready to get the ball down the field with a complete passing gameplan. When you go in knowing that, it might be, 'he's okay behind the scenes as a guy, he's just not ready to play right now.'"

In fact, Cooley actually thought Haskins' worst game ever was his best of the year from a development standpoint. At least against the Browns, he was trying to take shots down the field. 

"My favorite game was when Dwayne made mistakes throwing the ball downfield, because I thought he learned," he said. "Peyton Manning learned when he threw picks. I hate when a quarterback thinks, 'I've gotta just: One read, ball out.'

"I just didn't think he progressed in the three games that weren't interception games," he said. "Like last week, there was no step forward. You can take any college quarterback and throw screens and dump-offs. You can give Scott Turner credit for giving them a gameplan to move the ball, but having the ability to throw accurately within 10 yards is not an overwhelming skill for quarterbacks around the league."

Was Haskins pulled too early considering this season was perceived as a rebuilding year? Yes. It's also okay for a team's goals to shift throughout the course of a year. Life changes fast in football.

You can also argue the coaching staff put playing mistake-free football ahead of Haskins' development and then punished him for not winning games or not showing signs of improvement. Then at the same time, this staff didn't draft Haskins and their job security is on the line as well. 

Ultimately it was a tough decision for the coaching staff and it's even more difficult for the player who now has to focus on resurrecting his career after just 11 career starts. 

"I feel really bad for Dwayne, but he wasn't growing the way they wanted him to grow," Cooley said.