Dwayne Haskins was supposed to be the local quarterback who’d revitalize the Washington Football Team as a franchise. At least temporarily, Haskins has been sent to the sideline to see if Kyle Allen can do what he couldn’t.
Washington is benching Haskins for its Week 5 game against the Rams, according to multiple reports. Allen, a former Panthers quarterback, will start in a familiar system after reuniting in Washington with Ron Rivera. Haskins, 11 starts into his pro career, won’t even be the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart Sunday — that nod will go to veteran Alex Smith. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has reported that the move is in part an attempt to go for it in a shaky NFC East, where the Eagles lead the division at 1-2-1.
Haskins, who attended high school in Potomac, Maryland, before starring at Ohio State, was the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He picked up his first start in Week 9 of the 2019 season and went 2-5 down the stretch. Washington is off to a 1-3 start in 2020, Rivera’s first as head coach.
While not blessed with a great receiving corps in Washington, Haskins has nonetheless struggled to string together positive plays. His NFL completion percentage is 59.6 percent thus far, and he’s thrown 11 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions. Haskins was a Jay Gruden draft pick in Washington, which means Rivera isn’t necessarily wed to Haskins.
Haskins starred while at Ohio State, completing 70 percent of his passes in 2018 for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns compared to only eight interceptions. Pro Football Focus’ pre-draft profile of Haskins suggested he struggles to throw when under pressure (which has been a constant during his time in Washington), but that “his clean-pocket passing and ability to create when his first read isn’t there puts him behind only Kyler Murray as the quarterback to take in this class.”
Allen started 12 games for Carolina last year after Cam Newton was injured and went 5-7. Between Allen and a now-healthy Smith, Haskins might have a tough time regaining the starting job in D.C.
A situation similar to this took place in Arizona ahead of Murray’s selection first overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Kliff Kingsbury took over as the Cardinals’ new head coach and wanted to create his own setup. That meant trading Josh Rosen, who had just been taken 10th overall in 2018, away to the Dolphins. Rosen, too, struggled in his first year in the league due in part to immense pressure that opposing defenses could put on him behind a terrible offensive line.
It’s not currently clear whether Haskins will be involved in trade talks, or whether he’ll have a chance to reclaim his starting job at some point. Rapoport’s report that Washington is going for it in the NFC East suggests that tanking for Trevor Lawrence isn’t what this move is about, but Washington is bad enough to wind up with a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Three top-notch quarterbacks are expected to be available in Clemson’s Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
If Rivera wants to put his mark on his new franchise, regardless of where Washington finishes in its division, he might look to select a new quarterback in this year’s draft. Wednesday’s news of Haskins’ benching certainly shows Rivera isn’t committed to seeing out any growth Haskins has still to come.