Starting with his introductory press conference as Redskins head coach and including many of his public comments since, Ron Rivera has made one thing clear to Dwayne Haskins: The starting quarterback job is going to be earned by, not handed to, the second-year passer.
Rivera has often mentioned how he needs to see Haskins assume more of a leadership role and display a hunger to get better after a rocky, yet tantalizing rookie year. He’s also made sure to bring up Alex Smith’s name as someone not to forget under center, indicating Smith or someone else could be given a chance to start for Washington at QB instead of the recent first-round pick.
Haskins has heard Rivera’s remarks and is ready to embrace the coach’s challenge.
“That’s cool,” Haskins told reporters on Friday at a Redskins community event at the National Children’s museum in D.C. “I’m just going to have to work hard and eventually take it over. Just do your best to be accountable for what you have to do and be ready to go.”
Haskins’ transition from Ohio State to the NFL was far from ideal. It included some disappointing early appearances, Jay Gruden’s firing, questions about his dedication, a poorly-timed selfie and some minor ankle injuries.
But near the end of 2019, everything seemed to come together for the talented 22-year-old, as he posted six sterling quarters of play and hinted at his major potential.
Those six quarters, though, haven’t convinced Rivera to anoint Haskins as the franchise’s guy yet. However, the signal-caller, who reached out to guys who played for the former Carolina coach, hasn't been caught off guard by that choice.
“[Rivera’s] a guy who’s going to hold you accountable and make sure you put the work in,” he said. “I’m all for that, so I’m excited.”
So now, Haskins will embark on a months-long stretch that could have an impact on his entire NFL career. If he comes through and responds well to Rivera’s demands and style, then he’ll have the opportunity to reach the pinnacle of the position like he believes he can. And if he doesn’t, things could turn ugly for him pretty quickly.
On a Friday in February, a day far away from any meaningful action or practice or game, Haskins sounded optimistic and ready.
“I’m excited talking to him, talking to Scott [Turner],” he said. “I’m excited to actually do football things with those guys and I feel like we’re going to do a lot of great things together.”
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