Ron Rivera took a risk in pulling former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins after just four games.
He passed on Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL Draft and potentially signing Cam Newton during the offseason in order to see what exactly he had in Haskins, a quarterback drafted before he took the Washington head coaching job.
The early returns weren't great in Week 5 against the Rams. Kyle Allen was running for his life, Alex Smith had to come in after the former was injured in the game, and Smith himself was sacked six times. It'd be easy to criticize Rivera for not winning after making a 'win-now' move.
However, NBC Sports' Peter King is not someone who's going to jump in on the "pigpile," as he put it in his weekly column.
"I think I’m not a fan of the pigpile on Washington coach Ron Rivera for starting Kyle Allen on Sunday against the Rams and moving Dwayne Haskins to number three on the QB depth chart," King wrote. With Washington a half-game out of first place after four weeks in a horrid division, life changed with this team, and the quarterback plan changed. No longer was this year as much about the development of Haskins as it was about winning games."
Even though Washington lost its fourth straight, they still remain a game back of a tie for first place in the division with the Cowboys, who by the way lost their starting quarterback for the season Sunday.
So now the Cowboys offense is presumably hindered and still has to deal with a terrible defense. The Giants don't look like they'll win more than four games. The Eagles are either too injured to field a decent team or their coaches make some inexplicable decision to cost them a game, like putting a linebacker one-on-one with a wide receiver that had already burned them for three touchdowns.
The point is, given Washington's upcoming schedule, there's still chance they can make a little noise.
"With an advantageous stretch of six games—Rams on their third East Coast trip in four weeks, at the Giants, Dallas at home, Giants at home, at Detroit, Cincinnati at home—Rivera and his team had to be thinking, 'Why not us? Why can’t we win this craptastic division?,'” King said. "Allen’s upside is not as high as Haskins’, but he’s a guy who played in this offense all last season in Carolina, and Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner know Allen knows it better than Haskins. Rivera is right to do what gives the team the best chance to win now. It’s likely Haskins will get more chances later this season, but that can’t be the big concern right now."
You can talk about how bad the NFC East is and how weak Washington's upcoming schedule is, but there's a reason why the division is wide open. Every team, including Washington, has been dreadful to open the year.
It's too early to say whether Rivera made the a mistake benching Haskins so early, but if it turns out to be the wrong call, Rivera may as well deserve every bit of the "pigpile" in the end. When you're the head coach, you take credit for all decisions, not just the good ones.