It appears that everyone wants to see a Dwayne Haskins/Daniel Jones Week 4 battle this weekend after Jones led the Giants to an unbelievable 18-point comeback in his starting debut against the Buccaneers. Well, everyone except Jay Gruden.
After last Monday’s loss to the Bears at FedEx Field that revealed just how deep the flaws of the winless Redskins go, it felt like the fanbase, and maybe even the team, was ready for some sort of change. You look on Redskins Twitter and that call to change would mostly be centered around the coaching staff, particularly the much-maligned defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
Others however were aimed towards the benching of quarterback Case Keenum in favor of rookie Dwayne Haskins. While Keenum’s first two games were fairly promising, he had a complete meltdown against Chicago, throwing three interceptions and losing two fumbles. Chicago’s defense is arguably the league’s best, but Keenum made most of the mistakes on his own, and it felt largely like a loss by halftime because of his struggles. From the performance a question now arises, is keeping Keenum in worth a lost season?
Keenum is by no means a bad quarterback, in fact he’s had some strong flashes in his career, but without a strong running game to carry the load he looks completely outmatched. It doesn’t help that the defense has also been one of the worst in the league in the first three games, allowing an average of 402 yards and 31 points to start the season.
Still, Gruden has decided to stick with the journeyman in hopes that things will change.
“This season is not lost. It’s not over. I know everybody wants to say, ‘It’s over, and the season is over, so go ahead and play Haskins.’ We feel confident we can turn this thing around,” coach Gruden said.
But what if things don’t change? The schedule gets a bit easier after Washington plays New England in Week 5, but if the results stay the same, when does Haskins get his turn?
According to Darren M. Haynes, a team source has said that Haskins has not been getting the preparation needed for him to ever see time on the field this season, as the team has limited him to predominantly scout team reps. Chris Russell has also mentioned that Gruden would prefer Colt McCoy, who is said to be close to returning to practice, over Haskins if it came down to his decision.
The fear that Haskins gets thrown to the wolves due to a lack of proper preparation as well as a below-average supporting cast is a worrisome thought, but the potential positives of getting him on-field experience is vital to his development, especially considering he only started one season on the collegiate level.
Still, it seems obvious that the rookie signal-caller is the most talented quarterback on the roster, and not playing him seems like a choice by Gruden to maintain consistency in a season that could essentially cost him his job.
The fact that Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones and Gardner Minshew have all started games under arguably worse conditions with relatively strong (albeit early) results leads me to believe that the experience on the field far outweighs the negatives of potential rookie struggles.
I don’t think playing Haskins signals the end of the season like Gruden inferred. We really have no idea how he might play with this supporting cast. Perhaps he’s good enough to improve other aspects of the offense, perhaps he’ll struggle to adapt to NFL defenses. We simply do not know until he goes out there. The earlier that decision is made, the better sense we have of what Haskins can do for this team now.
We may not see the Jones v. Haskins matchup that the people want, but at some point or another, Haskins will have to see the field for the Redskins because consistency, and the desire to play it safe, just might not be working for them.