NFL

The Washington Football Team has a Risky Plan at Quarterback in a Must-Win Game

Going into the final week of the regular season, the Washington Football Team has quite the situation on their hands. The team squandered an opportunity to win the NFC East, losing to the Panthers 20-13. Despite the loss, they are still in the driver’s seat to win their division at 6-9, only needing a win against the Eagles in Week 17.

The big question for Washington coming into this critical matchup is who will be starting at quarterback. After a lackluster offensive performance, they have a plan in place for who will be under center for such a crucial game.

The Washington Football Team’s recent quarterback issues

The past week hasn’t been kind to the Washington Football Team’s quarterback room. It started when Alex Smith suffered a calf injury in the team’s Week 13 contest against the 49ers. The injury caused him to miss the remainder of that game and the following one against the Seahawks. Smith’s calf injury is to his right leg, the same leg he sustained that gruesome injury which required numerous surgeries.

Dwayne Haskins also had a rough week, but not because of injury. He caught headlines because pictures were released showing him at a private party with strippers. The images showed him without a mask, violating the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. This was the second time he was in violation of the NFL’s protocols. His first violation came in October per Yahoo! Sports.

Washington fined Haskins $40,000 and had his captain title revoked for his latest violation. Despite his transgression, he still had a chance to start against the Panthers because of Smith’s calf injury. Haskins took the first-team reps in practice leading up to the game, looking to redeem himself for his actions.

With Smith not being able to go, Haskins got the nod Sunday against the Panthers. In what was a potential division-clinching game, he struggled.

The Washington Football Team struggles with Dwayne Haskins at quarterback

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The game didn’t go as planned for Washington. The offense was inept with Haskins under center, failing to score a touchdown with him on the field. Haskins completed 14-28 passes for 154 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions in that game. In the fourth quarter, Washington benched Haskins for Taylor Heinicke.

Haskins talked about his struggles post-game and how difficult the past week was for him. “ Definitely the hardest week of my life. I just want to bounce back and move forward and pray and get my life together,” Haskins said per ESPN.

After the game, head coach Ron Rivera talked about benching Haskins and the team’s offensive struggles. “We didn’t get anything going, so I decided to make the change,” Rivera said during the postgame press conference per ESPN. As for what he wants to see out of Haskins moving forward, Rivera said, “Improvement.”

In his second season, Haskins hasn’t shown that he is the future at quarterback for Washington. He was the starter at the beginning of the season before his benching in Week 4. His two COVID-19 protocol violations show a lack of maturity Washington wants to see out of him. He has thrown for 1,439 yards, five touchdowns, and seven interceptions this year. The Washington Football Team is looking for Haskins to prepare like an NFL quarterback as he continues his career.

Who will start for the Washington Football Team against the Eagles?

The Washington Football team has a big decision to make for their game against the Eagles. With the division on the line, who is going to start at quarterback? The team has looked very different offensively based on who is under center. Ron Rivera and his staff are leaning in one direction; it just depends on his health status.

Alex Smith is the one who will start for Washington if he is healthy enough to play. Rivera wanted him to play in Week 16, but he couldn’t perform to the level needed to be successful. The calf injury Smith has is difficult because it is his right leg. Half of that calf muscle was used in muscle transplant surgery to cover the front of his leg, per Chris Mortenson. So the focus is can his leg function properly given it has less calf muscle than the average person.

If Alex Smith cannot play, Taylor Heinicke will start for Washington, per Adam Schefter. Heinicke came in relief of Haskins against Carolina, completing 12-19 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. He has some experience in Washington’s offense, playing under offensive coordinator Scott Turner during his time in Washington and Carolina. 

It seems like the Washington Football Team has a plan at quarterback going into an enormous game. Alex Smith’s health is the factor, as he will be the guy if his calf is strong enough to go. If he isn’t ready, the pressure will be on Taylor Heinicke’s shoulders.

All stats courtesy of ESPN