It's been a whirlwind for the Washington Football Team the past few weeks. The team retired its nickname and faced major allegations from a Washington Post report, but this week, training camp is supposed to get started.
Or some weird COVID-19 version of training camp anyway.
Veteran players are supposed to report this week after rookies, quarterbacks and injured players reported last week. And even with a new name, or not a new name actually, quarterback remains the most important position in Washington.
As far as offseasons in a pandemic can go, second-year QB Dwayne Haskins has had a terrific one. He's lost weight, worked out with his wide receivers and seemed much more comfortable in a leadership role in his sophomore campaign.
And while that's not lost on Ron Rivera, the Washington head coach still hesitates to fully name Haskins the starting quarterback.
"I’ve seen enough to say that he’s going to compete to be our quarterback," Rivera said last week on the Dan Patrick Show. “As I said though, I’m not saying he’s our starting quarterback. What I am saying is he’s in position to be our starting quarterback. He showed enough that I believe that we have to give him a look."
Some of that is simple coach speak.
Rivera doesn't want to crown Haskins when he's preaching competition across the roster, especially when the team hasn't had any offseason workouts or minicamp practices. Rivera hasn't even technically coached Haskins yet, so how could the starting quarterback spot be officially decided.
The evidence still supports Haskins getting that job. He was the 15th overall pick last year, and despite an ugly start in 2019, the former Ohio State star impressed late in his rookie year.
But still, the Kyle Allen thing is a bit weird.
Washington traded for Allen in March, and the third-year QB started games for Rivera last year with the Panthers. Further, Allen already knows offensive coordinator Scott Turner's system.
It's important to note that Turner was impressed with Haskins' command of the offense via Zoom meetings this offseason, but as any person stuck in their house the last four months knows, Zoom doesn't actually replace the real thing.
All of that brings things back to this quote from April when Rivera talked about what advantages Kyle Allen could have over Haskins:
If we were told, 'hey, you've got two weeks to go,' I would feel very comfortable with Kyle because here's a guy that knows the system, has been in the system and could handle it for us for a period of time, and we'll see how that goes. That's kind of the thought process behind it for us.
There's more, via SI, when Rivera described Allen:
A guy that can be very competitive for us; that's gonna come in and compete and push Dwayne. And whether he wins the job or he ends up as the backup, I know who Kyle Allen is.
This quote might be the most interesting. Rivera got asked about the plan at quarterback if training camp gets shortened and there's no preseason. Well, there's not going to be any preseason, and while training camp might be a normal length, nobody really knows what could happen. Rivera's reply is worth noting:
If that was the situation Kyle would have would have a leg up on the situation, most certainly.
Haskins has significantly more upside than Allen and in all likelihood will start Washington's first game on September 13th. But it's been a weird year, and nothing seems certain just yet.
Rivera said as much, repeatedly.
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