Commanders

Three reasons why going with Smith as starter is right call for now

Commanders

With Washington now at 2-6 and Kyle Allen no longer in the quarterback picture, many fans would like to see Ron Rivera give Dwayne Haskins another shot to lead the offense.

That won't happen, though, or at least it won't happen yet.

After the team's loss to the Giants on Sunday, Rivera told reporters that Smith will start in their upcoming game against the Lions. Haskins will back Smith up, per the coach.

That may not be the most popular call, but it is the right call. Here are three reasons why.

Smith produced versus New York

There's no getting around the veteran's three interceptions. The last two in particular were unforgivable, especially for someone as experienced as Smith.

However, Smith also had some really positive moments, including a few long passes to Cam Sims as well as his touchdown to Terry McLaurin, which is, to this point, the best play for the Burgundy and Gold's offense in 2020.

Had Smith come out and looked like he did against the Rams when he replaced Allen in that contest, then sure, dropping him to second on the depth chart and turning to Haskins would be completely understandable. 

No. 11 really contributed, though, and if he can produce in that manner coming off the bench, it's worth seeing what he can do with a full week of practice as the starter. He was so much better in his second appearance than he was in the first, and he very well could continue to get comfortable with additional snaps.

 

The playoffs are still a thing

The above heading isn't going to sit well with a lot of fans. It shouldn't, either. Discussing the postseason with this team feels completely foolish, seeing as they can't even defeat Daniel Jones.

That said, as foolish as that conversation is, it's also relevant as long as the NFC East keeps NFC East-ing. 

As embarrassing as the Week 9 loss at FedEx Field was, Washington is still just a game-and-a-half back of the Eagles and they still have the entire back half of their schedule to get to.

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That is something Rivera and his staff will remind the roster as they prep for the Lions. Of course this group is flawed in a ton of ways, and of course they shouldn't be happy with where they are, but until someone pulls away in the division (or everyone else just drops off), Washington can claim that they're interested in January football. 

Smith is the guy to try to help that interest come to fruition. He knows the scheme better than Haskins and, if he can carry over much of his performance against the Giants into the future, can lead the unit better than him as well. 

Haskins probably isn't the long-term answer

In most cases, a squad well under. 500 in November would always try to develop the 23-year-old instead of win immediately with the 36-year-old. But as mentioned already, the NFC East is changing the equation. 

Yet there's another, larger factor to think about: Rivera seems like he's already made up his mind about Haskins and where he fits into the franchise's long-term plans. 

The head coach demoted Haskins to the third-string just four weeks into the season. That was a drastic decision on its own and it becomes even more damning when remembering how often Rivera explained in the offseason he'd be patient with Haskins as he grew in the league. That patience disappeared quickly. 

So, yeah, the mess of the division that Washington is in makes Smith a more appealing option, but this isn't just about Smith. If Rivera really believed Haskins could mature into a building block for Washington, he probably wouldn't have been benched in the first place and he'd definitely be coming back now. 

While a sizable section of Washington supporters want to evaluate Haskins further, the truth is Rivera's evaluation may already be over. So why waste time investing more into a sunk cost?