In January and February, Ron Rivera has often discussed a competition at quarterback for the Redskins.
Will Rivera be saying the same thing when training camp arrives, though?
That's one of the most pressing questions facing the head coach as he assumes control.
So far, the guy at the center of Washington's franchise makeover has been happy to mention Dwayne Haskins' positive traits, but he's also made sure to include Alex Smith in any discussion about 2020 passers as well as the idea of bringing in other veteran options.
The key in those comments is whether they're being made to merely motivate Haskins — a second-year pro whom Rivera, Scott Turner, Doug Williams and others want to see step up his commitment in every way — and establish a competitive culture in Ashburn, or because Rivera is absolutely, positively serious in making this an open race.
Perhaps it is for that latter reason. As of now, however, it's hard to envision that really playing out.
While Rivera and much of the new staff and front office isn't tied in any way to Haskins, it'd still be a wild move to give up on him after he started only seven times. Yes, the Cardinals just did that when they dropped Josh Rosen in favor of Kyler Murray, but aside from that, it's basically unheard of for an organization to forget a first-round QB so quickly.
The truth is that he improved at the end of a crazy rookie campaign. It was measured progress, sure, but once Haskins gained a firmer grasp of the offense and what it takes to succeed in the NFL, he performed quite well. There are tools to work with there, and the Redskins should want to work with those tools.
In addition, while Rivera can bring up a competition all he wants, who's actually going to battle with him? Smith's football future is still such a longshot and if they opt to bring in a veteran, the odds of that veteran being someone Washington would actually want to turn to are low.
Now, this could all change if Haskins doesn't react well to Rivera's challenge or if the Redskins somehow end up in the position where they can or want to draft a prospect like, say, Tua Tagovailoa. And it could all especially change if that combination happens together.
As long as the 22-year-old "takes it over" like he explained last week, though, then this storyline should go away by the time the calendar reaches July. The reality is that he's immensely talented, has more long-term upside than almost anyone else the Redskins could pit him against and is a QB on a very cheap deal.
All of those factors should add up to this much-hyped competition not being much of a competition at all — but that's going to largely be up to Haskins himself.
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