For the first time since Week 4, Dwayne Haskins is going to be the starter for the Washington Football Team.
On Friday, Ron Rivera ruled Alex Smith out for Sunday's matchup with the Seahawks. The calf injury that Smith suffered versus the 49ers is still bothering the 36-year-old, so Rivera is opting to keep him on the sidelines and return to the passer who opened the season as the offense's first option.
Can Haskins do enough to help upset Seattle and further push Washington toward the playoffs? No one can be sure of that, but Rivera is sure that he'll be put in the best position to try and achieve that goal.
"This is a game plan tailored to his skill set," Rivera said in his presser. "What he does really well, we're going to try and take advantage of. And again, it's been a good work week for everybody and we'll see how it all translates to Sunday."
That last time Haskins started for the Burgundy and Gold was against the Ravens in early October. In that outing, he notched his only 300-yard performance as a pro, throwing a ton of quick passes and screens to his running backs and receivers. While Rivera is awfully fond of Haskins' arm strength, perhaps that'll be how the group operates with him back under center once more.
Now, if there was an occasion to have to re-enter the lineup after being demoted months earlier, this isn't a bad time to do so for the former first-rounder. He's set to face the NFL's most forgiving pass defense, his own defense is in a serious groove and there's a lot on the line.
He also was able to shake a bit of rust off in the second half of the win over San Francisco once Smith departed. Rivera told reporters he was pleased with how the first couple of series went for Haskins, noting that he got into a "little rhythm" due largely to the unit staying in manageable down-and-distance situations.
Smith will hopefully be able to return soon, but for at least the next game, Haskins is the one that Washington is relying on. And two days before No. 7 embarks on what is a very crucial moment in his career, Rivera publicly supported him.
"He's got an opportunity and I'm excited to watch him," he said. "This is a guy that's next, this is a guy that we believe in and this is a guy we kept around because we've seen something."