Dwayne Haskins played the worst football of his NFL career on Sunday, but Ron Rivera made clear he supports his quarterback.
In the 34-20 loss in Cleveland, Haskins threw three interceptions and had a fumble. Outside of the turnovers, collectively Washington played good enough to win, but Haskins did not.
Still, Rivera remained steadfast in his support of his young quarterback.
"The truth of the matter is how is he going to learn? Is he going to learn by taking the show team snaps? No. The only way he can learn and we can truly find out where Dwayne is and what he can do for us is to put him back on the football field and let him get exposed," Rivera said Sunday night. "That is how he grows."
Exposed is an interesting word, but despite the poor play in Cleveland, the bigger message was that Haskins needs the snaps.
The 15th overall pick in 2019, the loss to the Browns marked just Haskins 10th NFL start. In college at Ohio State, Haskins started just 14 games. That means he's only 24 starts removed from high school. That's wild.
Still, his play in 2020 has been subpar, and in the Week 3 loss against Cleveland, it was awful.
"I am going to support the young man. I am not going to pull the plug on him just because something like this happens," Rivera said. "He is barely through a rookie year right now in terms of being out there, learning and growing."
Rivera's unwavering support is impressive, and the Washington coach often references the development of Cam Newton as his guideline with Haskins. Rivera was the Panthers head coach when the team drafted Newton first overall in 2011 and saw as he became an NFL MVP in Carolina.
"That is what we did with Cam Newton, and look where he is today. Cam Newton was a league MVP because we trusted him and we took our lumps with him," Rivera said. "I am going to take my lumps with Dwayne right now."
It's a great story and a hopeful outcome for Washington fans, but at a certain point, it's important to point out there are major differences between Newton and Haskins.
To start, Newton was the first overall pick in 2011 after going undefeated and winning a national title at Auburn in 2010.
Newton is huge and possesses power running skill rarely - if ever - seen in an NFL quarterback to go with a rocket, accurate arm.
As a rookie in 2011, Newton threw for more than 400 yards in each of his first two games and sent shockwaves around the NFL showing he belonged. Newton was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
As a rookie in 2019, Haskins started seven games and had seven TDs and seven INTs.
Simply put, Cam Newton's nickname is "Superman." Haskins nickname is "Simba" after the Disney movie The Lion King.
Now, that doesn't mean Haskins can't become a great player. At all. But to compare Newton and Haskins isn't exactly fair either.
The real question becomes how long will Rivera stay patient with Haskins. In 2011, Rivera stayed very patient with Newton and completely supported his rookie quarterback.
In 2020, however, the situation is different.
Rivera drafted Newton. Rivera was not with Washington when Haskins was drafted.
It's extremely unlikely Haskins is going anywhere anytime soon, but at some point, remember that Rivera traded for Kyle Allen too. Allen started 12 games for Rivera last year in Carolina.
One important thing to remember - at all times - about Ron Rivera is his commitment to honesty and developing young players. He won't walk that back, with Haskins or anyone else.
But no coach can commit to a quarterback throwing three interceptions in a game. None.
Odds are Haskins will play better in Week 4 against Baltimore, simply because it's hard to play worse. Odds are that Rivera won't go away from Haskins this year, simply because the coach wants to develop the young passer, or at least get a full evaluation on his skill level.
At some point, however, it's worth pointing out that Cam Newton is one of a kind. Haskins might be too, but he hasn't shown anything close to that yet.