Dwayne Haskins made his NFL debut on Sunday against the Giants. The results looked largely ugly, especially the three interceptions, but he's a rookie passer getting his first taste of NFL action.
The struggles were understandable. Haskins came in towards the end of the second quarter, and the former Ohio State star had gotten only a few snaps with the first-team offense prior to the game action in New York. Combine that with injuries all over the offense, and it wasn't exactly a position to succeed. There wasn't much success either. After a solid first drive, Haskins turned the ball over and missed some other throws in the second half.
Sunday's performance is almost irrelevant now. The focus is on the future, and Haskins' development. For many, now that Haskins has started playing, he needs to keep playing. That means keeping the rookie passer on the field and letting him learn on the fly.
Jay Gruden doesn't necessarily agree.
Asked Monday if Haskins needed to start against New England in Week 5 or if going back to the bench would stunt his development, Gruden replied, "No, it should not at all."
Gruden, speaking exclusively with the Redskins Talk podcast, explained that Haskins was the backup quarterback for the Giants game, and that requires preparing to start regardless of opportunities on the field or at practice.
"Your job as a quarterback is to get ready to play at any given time. It could be for injury reason, it could be to give your team a spark. So he's got to be ready to go," Gruden said of Haskins. "He did a pretty good job in his first game and he's got to get better."
Still, Haskins was the 15th overall pick for a reason. He's the future of the Redskins franchise, and with the team at 0-4, maybe it's time to just let him take over. After all, Case Keenum and Colt McCoy are veteran passers that aren't under contract with the Redskins beyond 2019.
Again, Gruden doesn't necessarily see things that way.
"If I feel like Dwayne gives us the best chance to win, then Dwayne will play. If I feel like it's Colt or Case, then they'll play," Gruden said. "That's just what I have to do. I have a locker room full of players down there. I'm not trying to appease anybody except them and give us the best chance to win."
As the Redskins head coach pushed back at the concept of needing to start the rookie quarterback, there was one point he did not accept.
Washington faces 4-0 New England this week, and the Patriots have the best defense in the NFL. Asked if starting Haskins against the Patriots was a bad idea, Gruden dismissed the notion.
"I want to ask anybody out there, 'What difference does facing New England make as opposed to any other NFL team out there that plays good defense?' Every NFL team has good defensive players, not just New England. New England has been great for a lot of years. They have a great quarterback, a great head coach, a great system on defense," Gruden said. "Eventually, you're going to have to go back there. You're going to have to play. You're going to have to face the rush, you're going to have to face defenses and make tough throws. That has nothing to do with it."
Gruden is fighting for his head coaching career. He's under incredible stress, and much of that is coming from the quarterback position, and it doesn't sound like that will change anytime soon.
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