2020 has been a big year for the Washington Football Team. In addition to the obvious name change, the franchise also brought in Ron Rivera to take over as head coach; he was tasked as much with changing the organizational culture as anything else. Once the season began, however, he made a more unexpected move and benched Dwayne Haskins.
While rumors have been swirling that the Washington Football Team is ready to give up on the young quarterback, Ron Rivera doesn’t seem ready to move on just yet. In fact, the coach recently sent an encouraging message to his $14 million future star.
Dwayne Haskins hasn’t lived up to the hype in Washington, D.C.
In the modern NFL, having a talented quarterback is arguably the biggest key to success. When the Washington Football Team drafted Dwayne Haskins in 2019, it looked like they had found their man.
While he didn’t have much experience at Ohio State—the quarterback spent one season as a redshirt and another as the Buckeyes’ backup before bursting onto the scene as a sophomore—Haskins proved his worth under center. Life in the NFL, however, hasn’t gone as smoothly as it did in college.
During his first professional campaign, Haskins started seven games, throwing for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions; even if he wasn’t Washington’s problem, he wasn’t the answer either. He retained the starting job for 2020, but was benched ahead of Week 5 and seems stuck in the third spot on the depth chart.
Ron Rivera isn’t ready to give up on the $14 million man just yet
Given that Dwayne Haskins lost the starting job and was reportedly available ahead of the NFL trade deadline, it might seem like his days in Washington are numbered. Ron Rivera, however, doesn’t sound ready to give up on the young quarterback just yet.
“It’s funny, I benched the guy and it’s like everybody thinks his career is over here in Washington. It’s not. There’s potential, there’s opportunity. The kid has an NFL arm, it’s just a matter of him developing,” Rivera explained on The Rich Eisen Show, according to NBC Sports.
The veteran coach also shared a similar sentiment with the media ahead of Week 9.
“I really appreciate the way he’s been working,” Rivera said, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post. “Dwayne is understanding, and, again, he and I have talked, and I told him, I said, ‘Dwayne, this really is about your development and growth,’ and he’s a young, young quarterback. I’ve said this before: He played, what, 12 games in college or 13 games in college [Haskins made 14 starts at Ohio State], and then he’s in the NFL and he played a smattering of games last year. This year, we gave him a lot of opportunities, and you still see the rawness.”
Patience is the name of the game for Dwayne Haskins and the Washington Football Team
When anyone, let alone a former first-round pick, gets benched for Kyle Allen, it’s not exactly a great look. Ron Rivera’s comments, however, seem to be right on the money. While Dwayne Haskins’ shouldn’t automatically start every game, there’s no reason to kick him to the curb, either.
As the head coach rightly pointed out, Haskins doesn’t have a great deal of experience under his belt. While playing quarterback is about physical skill, there’s also a mental side of the position; Patrick Mahomes, for example, is still learning to read defenses after three years after being drafted. History is also full of late-developing quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and John Elway. While no one is saying Haskins will play like either of those men, it would be a bit naive to give up on him after less than two NFL seasons.
At this point, it’s as much about asset-management as anything else. The Washington Football Team spent a first-round pick on Dwayne Haskins; the team is paying the quarterback $14 million, either way, thanks to his guaranteed contract. With that much invested in Haskins, the team should be doing what it takes to develop him properly, even if that means keeping him on the bench for longer than they planned.
Will Dwayne Haskins turn into a surefire NFL star? As of now, there’s no way to know. To Ron Rivera’s credit, though, it sounds like the Washington Football Team’s brass is going to stay the course; while they aren’t going to hand their young quarterback the starting job, they don’t seem ready to kick him to the curb, either.