Snider: Dwayne Haskins "Just Needs Time to Grow"
If Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins is supposed to be all things to all people, then he certainly offers a variety of talents.
Haskins is remindful of predecessor Jason Campbell’s skillset, Brad Johnson’s confidence and Mark Rypien’s ability to rise and fall with surrounding talent. Washington has started 28 quarterbacks since Rypien’s 1993 farewell as its last Super Bowl-winning quarterback and Haskins shows assets of several predecessors.
He just needs time to grow into the job.
After a 1-1 start that frankly is better than the expect 0-2, Haskins is suddenly besieged on sports talk radio and social media as being on the hot seat. That he needs to produce right now despite a poor offensive line, only one legit receiver and a lot of youth in the backfield and downfield or Washington should spend its 2021 first-rounder on a passer.
That would be really stupid.
If there is one particular reason why Washington has rarely won since its golden age of three Super Bowl victories from 1983-91, it’s not syncing its new coach with new quarterbacks.
Since Rypien’s departure, there have been eight (and two interim) coaches and five first-round quarterbacks selected. But, the only time Washington let a new coach draft that quarterback was 1994 when Norv Turner wanted Heath Shuler, who turned into one of the franchise’s bigger busts ever.
Now Patrick Ramsey was selected in coach Steve Spurrier’s first season, but the coach told owner Dan Snyder you can draft him, but I won’t play him. And, Spurrier didn’t. So, that was a big waste.
Snyder loves taking quarterbacks so Washington chose Jason Campbell in 2006, but coach Joe Gibbs wouldn’t play Campbell until veteran Mark Brunell had zero left. When coach Mike Shanahan arrived in 2010, Snyder forced the Donovan McNabb trade and Campbell was gone. The sad part is Campbell could play, but was undermined by constant coaching changes.
By 2012, Snyder drafted Robert Griffin III in a whopping trade while Shanahan later added Kirk Cousins as a safety pick. Cousins turned out to be a big move by Shanahan as Griffin was regularly injured. New coach Jay Gruden couldn’t wait to bench Griffin after arriving in 2014 to play Cousins.
Snyder opted for Dwayne Haskins in 2019 over Gruden’s objections. Gruden wouldn’t play Haskins, but after an 0-5 start Gruden was fired and Haskins started.
Snyder’s interference and mistiming of coach/quarterback decisions has largely fueled an era of losing. And now once more the coach is not tied to the passer. If Ron Rivera wants to change passers in 2021, there’s no one to stop him.
Yet, it would be an impetuous move. Haskins shows signs of being a good NFL quarterback. Maybe he won’t be the next Tom Brady, but rarely has Washington played a top 15 passer since Rypien. Even if Haskins is just fair, using a first-rounder next year when the team badly needs a left tackle or safety would limit the team’s overall improvement.
Rivera is building a defensive-first team. He doesn’t need a 5,000-yard passer to win. Instead, Washington requires a quarterback who can lead in the second half. To that end, Haskins is a lot like Brad Johnson. Oh, Rex Grossman thought he could always make the big play, but it was usually for the other team. Indeed, confident quarterbacks who don’t flinch in the fourth quarter are rare.
Haskins could be like Rypien, a good quarterback who won the 1991 Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award in the victory by rising with the great talent around him. That’s not to diminish Rypien’s play. He was great that year, but when the team suddenly aged around him in 1993, Rypien fell with them.
Haskins has only played 11 games, but the past few showed improvement. Oh, his mechanics still need work. He rushes the ball too soon before his feet are properly set so the ball sails overhead, but then the line isn’t giving the passer too much time.
Tanking for Trevor Lawrence in next year’s draft isn’t possible. Washington won’t draft in the first two picks. Not with this defense unless something calamitous happens.
Haskins needs more time amid an offense that needs more time. Rivera understands that. Fans should, too.
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Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Washington football team in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks