For a growing quarterback still getting used to the NFL, a coaching change isn't just a speed bump on the road; instead, it's more like a complete alteration to the route.
That's what Dwayne Haskins is experiencing right now as the Redskins transition to Ron Rivera (who'll actually be Haskins' third head coach, in addition to Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan). Combine that with an offense that some believe puts Haskins in the worst situation in the league, and there are two glaring reasons to be on edge about the passer's future success.
Then, of course, there's how COVID-19 has affected these past few months for everyone in the sport. For Haskins in particular, he's missed out on a handful of offseason sessions and valuable time in the building with the new staff, as well as time with teammates to demonstrate the leadership he's trying to establish.
This pandemic and its consequences are actually what worries ESPN's Kimberley Martin most when it comes to Haskins and his performance, an opinion she shared during the newest episode of the Redskins Talk podcast.
"I think Rivera and company, they have to invest in Dwayne and make 2020 about him, because he's again starting behind the eight ball," the national reporter said. "He just hasn't had any real time to develop. And this whole offseason is a wash. I know guys are working, I know they're working. But it's just so different right now."
As Martin points out, while pros like Haskins have come up with solutions by finding fields and getting together on those fields with their peers — and, to Haskins' credit, he's been doing that kind of thing often — that's still just a fraction of how much learning and practicing would normally take place in a given spring and summer.
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In the end, she fears how much of an impact the drastic schedule changes could have on the former first-rounder specifically.
"I think this is a critical year for him, but I think he'll be judged unfairly because this situation just is not favorable," she told Redskins Talk.
But he's not the only one Martin is keeping an eye on.
"All these rookies, all these young players, everything's going to be sped up this offseason," she said. "Everybody, from Chase [Young], like all the new pieces, there are going to be some growing pains, and I think fans are going to have to understand that. These are unusual times that we're in."
As wildly talented as Young is, for example, he's still going to have to adjust to beating NFL offensive tackles instead of opponents from Illinois and Purdue. And he's already lost a lot of chances to start that process.
As fun as it is to imagine what Antonio Gibson can do, meanwhile, he's still facing a steep learning curve, and one that may include snaps at multiple positions. And he, too, has already lost a lot of chances to start that process.
Projecting what a rookie class and other up-and-comers will be able to do in their new roles is one of the more interesting parts of covering and caring about football. However, those are the players who are the most unpredictable, and that unpredictability will be even more of a factor in 2020.
Yes, if Haskins starts out with a few lackluster efforts or Young doesn't register a sack in the opening weeks, fretting will occur among Redskins supporters, because Redskins supporters are always fretting because they care so much.
Some perspective also needs to come with that fretting, though, because these inexperienced members of the Burgundy and Gold will be gaining much of their experience in the second quarter on a Sunday as opposed to the Ashburn practice bubble in June. That's not ideal, but it's going to be the reality, at least for this season.
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