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The disconnect between Jay Gruden, Bruce Allen and the development of Dwayne Haskins

The disconnect between Jay Gruden, Bruce Allen and the development of Dwayne Haskins

The Redskins drafted Dwayne Haskins 15th overall, but as far as developing the young quarterback, the organization did him no favors. 

The team has a head coach working with a playoffs-or-bust mindset, and inevitably, that runs contrary to molding a rookie passer in the NFL. 

Washington’s Jay Gruden is in his sixth year and has just one playoff game on his ledger. The team has gone 7-9 the last two years. Gruden’s contract expires after the 2020 season. Add that all up, and of course Gruden is under immense pressure to win games this year. And that means the head coach wants a veteran QB to run his offense instead of a rookie. 

Seriously, none of this should be a surprise. And this week some fans decided to be up in arms that Haskins isn’t getting more work in practice beyond scout team reps. 

Let’s be clear: Backup quarterbacks in the NFL don’t get much work. The starter gets the work. Haskins is the backup, and really, the Redskins situation isn’t unique. 

Now, if the 2019 season was truly all about developing Haskins, then Gruden probably wasn’t the right coach. If the team planned on drafting a first-round passer and focusing their future on that player, hire a new coach that is clear on that mission before the draft. Or extend Gruden's contract so he can be a part of that plan. Neither of those things happened. 

Drafting Haskins made sense for the long-term future of the Redskins franchise, but Gruden isn’t coaching for the long-term future of the Redskins franchise. He’s coaching for 2019. He said as much this spring. 

"There is no developmental process here. This is not Triple-A baseball, we’re not trying to develop a pitcher here," Gruden said in March during the NFL Owner's Meetings. "We’re trying to win a game right now."

Gruden's comments came before the NFL Draft, before the Redskins took Haskins, and before the coach was clumsily thrust into the role of working with a young QB while trying to meet a playoff mandate. 

"If we draft a quarterback in the first, second, third or seventh rounds and he’s going to start day one we expect great things from him, players will expect great things from him. Ryan Kerrigan is not expecting us to come out and let’s build for the future. We’ve got to win now," Gruden said. "Landon Collins did not come here to be good in 2034. They came here to be good and compete to win a Super Bowl this year whoever that player is, that position of quarterback there will be high expectations from us. That’s the way it’s going to be."

This situation should be much clearer now. 

If it's not, let's once more go back to Gruden's comments from March, this time specifically about Haskins. 

"Haskins has a unique skillset. He’s big, strong and can really throw it," the coach said. "Is he going to be ready for the first year? Ideally a couple of these guys you’d like to have them sit a year maybe to get them in your system learn to get to know your guys and play, especially those guys who only played one year."

Haskins played just one year of college football at Ohio State. He was excellent, but it still wasn't much time or experience. Clearly, that matters to Gruden. 

"If you take a guy like Haskins or whoever else, [Drew] Lock or [Will] Grier or whoever else, in this draft at 15 you would expect them to compete. If they don’t win the job you can’t just hand the ball over to them, they have to win the job. And you give them every opportunity to do that. If not you sit them until you feel they're ready."

By now it should be obvious that there was a serious disconnect between Gruden and the Redskins front office that decided to draft Haskins. The coach believes his rookie passer is in the "sit them until you feel they're ready" phase of his development, which will not satiate fans that want to see the rookie on the field. 

In March, Jay Gruden made it clear that drafting a passer at 15 didn't make much sense. In April, the team drafted Haskins anyway. 

Blame Gruden for not working more on developing Haskins if you want, but don't be surprised how things have unfolded. The answers for this test were all available before the questions even got asked.  

Washington is attempting to rebuild on the fly, to remodel the house while living in it. Occasionally that can work, but more often than not it ends up unfinished and messy. 


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Rushing to judgment on Dwayne Haskins? Maybe these numbers will change your mind

Rushing to judgment on Dwayne Haskins? Maybe these numbers will change your mind

Dwayne Haskins has thrown 57 passes in his first two NFL starts, and while everyone — from Dwayne to his coaches to his teammates to Redskins fans — would've liked those attempts to have generated more production and success, it's necessary to keep that number in mind.

Again: He's thrown just 57 passes as a starter in the NFL.

Despite that miniscule amount, some are rushing to judgment about the rookie's long-term future in the league. It's more than fine to look at what he's done through two starts and closely analyze it and even criticize some of it, but it's far too early to say definitively what he will become as a pro.

(Note: His appearances against the Giants and Vikings aren't being taken into consideration in this story, due to him coming into both contests while trailing and without a full week of reps with the first-stringers. He struggled in New York and Minnesota, but he was put in spots where struggles were almost certain.)

To put it simply: His past two efforts, while discouraging, don't mean he's a completely doomed passer who should start considering other careers. And to emphasize that fact, here's an exercise.

Let's put the stat lines from a few quarterbacks' first two starts next to each other, but withhold their names. For example, check out what this pair of signal callers did in their first and second times out as the No. 1 option: 

  • QB A - 34-of-52 (65.3-percent completion rate), 466 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs
  • QB B - 34-of-67 (50.7-percent completion rate), 357 yards, 1 TD, 5 INTs

QB A is a baller while QB B is a scrub, right? Not exactly. QB A is Marcus Mariota. QB B is Matthew Stafford. Mariota is currently sitting behind Ryan Tannehill and almost surely won't be a Titan in 2020, while Stafford has been entrenched in Detroit since 2009.

Here's another comparsion: 

  • QB A - 45-of-66 (68.1-percent completion rate), 446 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
  • QB B - 22-of-46 (47.8-percent completion rate), 319 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs

Look at that 20-plus percent difference in completion percentage between QB A and QB B, plus the large edge the former has over the latter in yardage. Well, QB A is EJ Manuel and QB B is Matt Ryan. Yep.

The point of this story is setting in by now, but here's one more side-by-side: 

  • QB A - 34-of-57 (59.6-percent completion rate), 358 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT 
  • QB B - 43-of-76 (56.6-percent completion rate), 533 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs 

QB A doesn't come close to matching QB B's yardage output, but he does have a slightly better (though still not ideal) completion percentage and two fewer picks. Turns out, QB A is actually Dwayne Haskins while QB B is Andrew Luck. If there were any folks in Indy ready to call Luck a bust through two starts, they surely now realize how foolish they were being then.

Of course, there have been young players — like Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes — who looked like stars the minute they took over. Unfortunately, Haskins doesn't find himself on that immediate path.

Also, while it'd be unfair for the Redskins to make a decision on whether Haskins is the answer after he's started twice, the reality is he may only get six more chances. Washington is going to have a premium draft pick next April and could choose another highly touted arm. It doesn't need to settle on how it feels about Haskins yet, but that date could be coming somewhat soon, meaning he must improve quickly.

Regardless, those who want to grade Haskins and evaluate him right now absolutely can, but those who want to call it one way or the other need to stop. As the above numbers show, if two starts was the be-all and end-all for pro passers, Marcus Mariota would be a legend while Matt Ryan would be selling insurance.


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Redskins cut edge rusher Noah Spence, promote Carroll Phillips from practice squad

Redskins cut edge rusher Noah Spence, promote Carroll Phillips from practice squad

The Redskins cut former Buccaneers second-round pick Noah Spence Tuesday and promoted Carroll Phillips from the practice squad, according to Ian Rapoport

Washington signed Spence in mid-September after the Bucs cut him at the end of training camp.

Hopes were high for Spence in Tampa after he recorded 5.5 sacks in his rookie season, but has only recorded two sacks in the three seasons following 2016. 

Phillips joined the Redskins practice squad in Week 9 after playing in limited snaps with the Jaguars and Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2017. 

The Illinois product figures to be the fourth man in the Redskins pass rush rotation behind Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat and Ryan Anderson.