What in the ever-loving hell is going on with the Washington football team? I realize that this question could have been asked at any point during the 21-year period that one Daniel Marc Snyder has owned the franchise, but seriously, not only is the organization so incompetent that they can’t figure out how to give themselves a non-racist nickname, but now they are allowing their new head coach to punt on the quarterback that they drafted with the 15th pick just a short 17 months ago?
It’s time to add a new achievement to the Washington Hall of Ineptitude.
Imagine being a second-year QB in just your 11th start and having the best game of your career against one of the toughest defenses in football and your new coach still hates you so much that he benches you and makes you the third-string QB. #Justice4Simba https://t.co/E6FwRG53to— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) October 7, 2020
First-year Washington head coach “Riverboat” Ron Rivera has not only benched Ohio State legend Dwayne Haskins, but he has made him inactive for this week’s game against the Los Angeles Rams, effectively telegraphing that the team is looking to trade the 23-year-old QB.
Now look, Haskins hasn’t exactly been great during his 11 starts for the NFL-team-to-be-named-later, and there are some cherry-picked advanced metrics that might even indicate that he is the worst statistical quarterback in the league through four games. But here’s the thing, Pro Football Focus says that Haskins was playing behind the 29th best offensive line in the league, throwing to the 29th best group of wide receivers (without Terry McLaurin, who is fifth in the league in receiving yards and just 16 yards away from the top spot, they’d almost assuredly be 32nd), not to mention the fact that the running backs are 26th and the tight ends are dead last.
What exactly do you expect a QB to do when he is given nearly no help and is constantly having to pray that the next snap isn’t the one on which four 280-pound defensive lineman crush him and end his multi-million dollar career simply because his blockers aren’t able to even semi-competently do their jobs?
It was obvious from nearly the moment that Rivera was hired that he had little interest in developing Haskins into the franchise quarterback that he is clearly capable of being. In March of this year, less than three months into the job, Rivera traded for the QB that he had signed as an undrafted free agent while with the Carolina Panthers in 2018, Kyle Allen. From there, the writing was on the wall.
I mean, hell, Rivera started Allen last year when former MVP Cam Newton was allegedly unable to play due to injury. Although, Rivera was eventually forced to bench his “QBFF” when he stunk it up so much that Will Grier was considered the better option. So it’s not surprising that Rivera would want to get Haskins out of the way as quickly as possible.
What’s interesting about the timing though is that this past Sunday against the always stout Baltimore Ravens’ defense, Haskins had his best day as a pro in many regards, going 32-for-45 for 314 yards (all career highs). Granted, he didn’t throw for any touchdowns for the first time this season, but he also didn’t throw any picks either.
In fact, when comparing Haskins’ early season numbers to those of a few other NFL starters, he doesn’t look too bad (also, all three of Haskins’ interceptions came in Week 3 against the Browns):
Almost every one of you have selected QB1, which is of course:— Gene Ross (@Gene_Ross23) October 7, 2020
Other QBs on this list:
QB2 - Carson Wentz
QB3 - Daniel Jones
QB4 - Sam Darnold https://t.co/CLlRkUazfw
I don’t know why Haskins was never given a fair shake in Washington. Who knows, perhaps he is an absolute cancer in the locker room. I mean, I highly doubt that, considering how beloved he is by his former OSU teammates and coaches, but short of that, Rivera, Snyder, and the nicknameless team did him wrong. We know how talented of a thrower Haskins is, but Washington just never seemed invested in giving him a chance to prove it on the pro level.
But to make matters worse, while speaking to the media on Wednesday, Rivera went and attempted to throw Haskins under the proverbial bus, placing all of the blame on his sophomore QB’s shoulders and leveling none of it on the rest of the team or admitting that his coaching staff hadn’t put their starter in a position to succeed.
Ron Rivera says people don't see the frustration on the sideline among other players when Dwayne Haskins makes mistakes. This is a combo of that and the NFC East standings.— Sam Fortier (@Sam4TR) October 7, 2020
"Our best chance to win is to put the ball in someone else's hands. .. That's what I'm doing."
I honestly am more pissed by these comments than I am about the benching. What in the hell is Rivera trying to accomplish by saying this? What happens if Allen and newly named second-string quarterback Alex Smith (who still hasn’t played since receiving his bionic leg following his horrific 2018 injury) both get hurt or suck worse than Haskins did?
Is there any reason to think that Haskins will be around to step back in? Would you want to if you were him? I’ve never been one to support this idea that you can’t bench young quarterbacks because it damages their psyche or something. They are professionals, it’s part of the job. But that’s a completely different issue than a coach just being a public jerk to the guy.
This feels personal for some reason. What does Rivera have against Haskins? Because, if the common presumption that Washington wants to trade him is in fact true, why would your coach publicly insult him, potentially damaging his value to another team? Perhaps Rivera just doesn’t care and is happy to kick some dirt on Simba’s time in the nation’s capitol.
I know that I am an Ohio State homer when it comes to this topic, and I admit that I thought that Haskins dropped too far in the 2018 NFL Draft, but this doesn’t make any sense to me.
Perhaps I just don’t understand what’s really going on in Washington, and I am blinded by my scarlet-and-gray colored glasses, but three things seem pretty clear to me:
1) that everything in Washington is a mess (I suppose this applies to more than just football, doesn’t it?)
2) that Dwayne Haskins deserved better from the team that drafted him.
3) that the Washington Football Team don’t deserve the talents or potential of Dwayne Haskins.
Wherever the most decorated single-season passer in Ohio State and Big Ten history ends up, it is clear that his future will be much brighter than it was in Washington... now how can we get McLaurin and Chase Young out of there too?
After some unexpected start and stops, I am back to posting a column every single day from preseason camp until whenever Ohio State’s football season ends. Some days they will be longer and in depth, some days they will be short and sweet. Let me know what you think of this one, and what you’d like to see me discuss in the comments or on Twitter. Go Bucks!