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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