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The answer to the Dwayne Haskins start or sit debate doesn't have to be one or the other

The answer to the Dwayne Haskins start or sit debate doesn't have to be one or the other

In the NFL, very rarely does a two-quarterback system work. There's a clear starter, and then there's a clear backup.

The Redskins have a quarterback competition on their hands between veteran Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins. As head coach Jay Gruden will use training camp and the preseason to determine his Week 1 starter, NBC Sports Washington's Trevor Matich offered his opinion on what the Redskins should do, and it's a lot different from a traditional QB competition.

Matich thinks the Redskins should play Haskins in spurts throughout the first couple weeks of the season until he proves he's ready mentally for the starting job.

"The best thing the Redskins could do with Dwayne Haskins is not start him Week 1, even if they think he might be ready," Matich said. "The better call is to give him meaningful snaps in Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, let him prove that he is ready for the mental load."

The Redskins selected Haskins with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, intending on the 22-year-old being their franchise quarterback of the future. But that does not mean he has to start Week 1, especially if he's not the best option to win.

Matich feels that if the Redskins rush Haskins into the starting role in Week 1, they risk having a rookie quarterback who could lose all his confidence rather quickly. 

"The problem with starting a rookie quarterback in Week 1 is if he struggles and you have to bench him, his confidence is destroyed," he said.

Matich isn't the only one who feels that way. Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann said starting Haskins Week 1 would be "a formula for disaster."

If Haskins is thrown into the job when he's not ready, he'll begin to form a lot of bad habits, according to Matich. The Redskins expect to be their franchise quarterback for the next several years, and Haskins forming bad habits early on is the last thing they want to happen with their rookie quarterback.

"He will develop bad habits if he's not ready," Matich said. "He will drop back to pass and not be sure what he sees, his eyes in the wrong places. He starts to look at the pass rush and run around when he should be staying in the pocket throwing downfield. Those are habits he will need to break later, once he is ready [for the starting job]."

By playing Haskins in spurts at the beginning of the season, he will get his first taste of what being an NFL quarterback is like, yet won't feel the pressure of having to be the starter right away. That way, Haskins will be able to grow as a quarterback, and when he begins to show the Redskins he is capable of being the starter, it's his.

"You're much better off having go in for a series or two early in games, early in the season and then show that he is ready," Matich said. "At that point, you don't have to take the risk that you might have to bench him, which would be the worst thing to do with a young quarterback."

Training camp begins July 25 for the Redskins.

 

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Dwayne Haskins has room to grow in a few areas, but this one might be the most crucial

Dwayne Haskins has room to grow in a few areas, but this one might be the most crucial

Dwayne Haskins is completing just 55-percent of his attempts as a pro quarterback so far, has thrown three touchdowns against seven interceptions and is averaging only 166 yards per start.

All of those numbers hint at how Haskins must grow as a passer in the NFL. However, those aspects are secondary to the area he needs to improve the most as he continues to see action for the Redskins.

The facet of his game that requires the most work is avoiding sacks. Yes, his accuracy and decision-making and choices in the red zone are all important, but none of those things will get better or reveal themselves if No. 7 is lying on his back and looking at the sky as much as he's doing so far.

The rookie has been dropped 22 times in his five appearances as starter, and 26 times overall. According to The Athletic, if you take the rate which Haskins is being sacked at as the team's primary signal caller and extrapolate it over a full schedule, it'd add up to the third-worst total in league history.  

So, yeah, that's extremely troublesome. 

On Wednesday, Haskins explained how his desire to be aggressive is partly causing this issue to be such an issue.

"Sometimes when I'm back there, I'm trying to find things deep or down the field instead of just finding the checkdown in the flat," he said.

As for how to remedy that, the 22-year-old told the media it's about being more aware of his immediate options.

"Just knowing where all my quick elements are when things happen fast and when things get on me," Haskins said.

Of course, each sack is its own entity, and not all of them fall on the guy with the ball. There have been instances this year where Haskins will go down and a replay will show an offensive lineman immediately getting beaten, the kind of sequence that will make any QB vulnerable. Not all of the negative plays are happening because of where Haskins is in his development.

However, to compare, Case Keenum was sacked just 12 times in his eight starts behind the same O-line. That's a significantly lower number.

Just like every other part of Haskins' skill set, this is something that should get sharper with experience. Every Sunday, assuming he gets a lot more, will lead to him becoming more adept at reading defenses, more proficient at adjusting protection calls and more prepared to find his outlet options.  

Keenum has seen all that there is to see in the NFL, while Haskins is just beginning that arduous process.

And, while Bill Callahan admitted he hates seeing the offense plagued by the sacks, the interim coach also detailed something beyond experience that could help Haskins limit them in the future.

"He's not a repetitive guy, a repetitive-mistake player, where you see continually the small mistakes over and over again," Callahan said. "He makes a mistake, he recognizes it, he moves on and you don't see a repetitive error come back into his game. There's been a lot of growth in that respect."

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Clinton Portis among group of NFL players charged by Justice Department with defrauding NFL health care program

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Clinton Portis among group of NFL players charged by Justice Department with defrauding NFL health care program

The Justice Department charged Clinton Portis and nine other former NFL players with defrauding a health care program for retired players.

The news broke Thursday morning when the Eastern District of Kentucky alleged that the retired players submitted fraudulent claims for medical equipment costing between $40,000-50,000 to the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan. 

Former Redskins cornerback and first-round pick Carlos Rogers is also charged along with Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Tamarick Vanover, Ceandris Brown, James Butler, Frederick Bennett, Correll Buckhalter and Etric Pruitt. Joe Horn and Reche Caldwell are also expected to be charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Portis' attorney Mark Dycio said of the charges (via The Washington Post): "Clinton Portis had no knowledge that his participation in what he believed to be an NFL sanctioned medical reimbursement program was illegal. He is completely taken aback by this indictment and will move forward with the process of clearing his good name and those of his fellow NFL alumni."

According to the indictment, the claims filed between June 2017 and December 2018 totaled $3.9 million and the health care plan paid out more than $3.4 million.

Portis played seven years for the Redskins from 2004 to 2010, rushing for nearly 7,000 yards and 46 touchdowns. He remains a fan favorite and currently works for the Redskins Broadcast Network. 

A Redskins spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. 

Stay tuned as this is a developing story. 

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