Entering the 2020 season, plenty of experts wondered whether Washington Football Team passer Dwayne Haskins could truly be a franchise quarterback.
Those questions have only been magnified following after the 23-year-old turned the worst start of his career this past Sunday, throwing for three interceptions and fumbling once in the team's 34-20 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Add NFL analyst Michael Lombardi to those doubters. In fact, Lombardi went so far to say that if Washington head coach Ron Rivera doesn't make a quarterback switch should Haskins' woes continue, he'll lose respect from his players.
"The problem Rivera has, and this is what he's going to share with his owner," Lombardi said on 106.7 The Fan's Grant and Danny. "He's going to say, 'Dan [Snyder], I can't stand in front of these guys and tell them Dwayne Haskins is the best player. They're going to lose respect for me. If he doesn't play well, they're going to lose respect for me.'"
Since taking over as head coach in January, Rivera has challenged Haskins numerous times to take control of the starting QB job, both on and off the field. Throughout the offseason, Haskins did just that, and his efforts were rewarded at the end of training camp with the QB1 gig and being named a team captain.
But through three weeks, Haskins has been underwhelming.
Following Sunday's four-turnover performance, Rivera backed Haskins, saying he was not going to "pull the plug" just because of the one bad game. However, one day later, the head coach did admit that at some point, there is a cut-off.
"There are guys in that locker room that are playing well enough for us to win," Rivera said. "There is a cut-off point for me. There is...I'll cross that bridge when I get there."
Haskins' four-turnover performance prevented Washington from really having any chance to be victorious in Cleveland, despite solid efforts from many players including Montez Sweat, Dontrelle Inman and a bunch of others that stepped up.
Performances like Haskins' on Sunday -- where the quarterback is almost solely responsible for the team not being able to compete -- will make it more difficult each week for Rivera to convince the rest of his team that No. 7 gives Washington the best chance to win.
"The players know," Lombardi said. "When you affect the players' life in terms of them not being able to win because the quarterback is not good enough, you're going to lose the team."
Lombardi cited the current situation in Chicago -- where Matt Nagy benched Mitch Trubisky for Nick Foles despite the Bears starting 2-0 -- as an example of a head coach knowing he would lose his locker room had he not made the switch.
"It was going on in Chicago with Matt Nagy. Why do you think he changed quarterbacks? He was as patient as he could be," Lombardi said. "That's Rivera's problem right now. He's worried about losing his football team."
After all, the 2020 NFL season is still young. Haskins still has time to turn around his rough campaign, but the second-year passer needs to do so soon in order to prevent his head coach from being forced to make a switch, both short- and long-term.
"Time isn't going to be of the essence," Lombardi said. "When you look at the case of Dwayne Haskins Jr., you study the 12 games he's played and you go back and look at his collegiate career, you have to ask yourself: Were you right with that evaluation?"