Immediately after Washington's Week 3 loss to the Browns, Ron Rivera stood firmly behind Dwayne Haskins.
"I am going to support the young man," he told reporters on Zoom. "I am not going to pull the plug on him just because something like this happens."
The "this" Rivera referenced was Haskins' three-interception, four-turnover performance in Cleveland on Sunday. The outing was mostly a disaster, and it overshadowed some seriously productive efforts by players like Montez Sweat, the rest of an undermanned defensive line and Dontrelle Inman.
Rivera again took the podium on Monday, and he again faced numerous questions about his quarterback. In the presser, the coach reiterated his desire to let Haskins grow and attempt to rebound from his mistakes.
But for the first time, Rivera also admitted that process can't last forever.
"There are guys in that locker room that are playing well enough for us to win," he said. "There is a cut-off point for me. There is."
One word that Rivera routinely used in his media session was "regression." To him, if Haskins begins to decline instead of improve — and Rivera acknowledged that what happened in Cleveland was largely negative — then he'll know he should try someone else under center.
"I'll cross that bridge when I get there," he said.
So, Rivera hasn't arrived at the bridge yet. However, he did bring up its existence. And it's only Sep. 28.
That's not ideal.
What seemed to particularly bother Rivera is that "other players deserved better" than the 14-point road defeat that they suffered against the Browns. If that sort of thing happens again a few more times — and if it becomes more and more evident that Haskins is preventing the rest of the roster from better results — it's going to be increasingly difficult to sell that roster on continuing to rely on No. 7.
Since taking over, Rivera's maintained a stance that the global view matters more than a minute-to-minute view as he begins rebuilding the Washington Football Team. That opinion is relevant in every decision he makes, from cutting Adrian Peterson to how he's been managing his timeouts to the field goal he kicked in Arizona, just to name a couple of choices. Countless more could be cited.
That's also why Rivera isn't coming down hard on Haskins publicly or entertaining any chatter about inserting Kyle Allen or Alex Smith. He's totally determined to figure out what he has in the second-year signal caller.
His "cut-off point" comments on Monday, however, felt significant. Even a leader with the big picture on his mind can't allow a player to consistently interfere with the day to day operations. Haskins has more time, sure, but he doesn't have unlimited time. No one in the NFL does.