When a NFL Draft first-round pick QB busts, it is generally pretty much everybody's fault.
Yes, even the fault of the head coach who didn't draft him ... but who also didn't develop him.
“I should have made as big a competition as possible, and that’s on me,” Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera said this week at WFT minicamp, reflecting on a year ago. “I wanted to try and find a guy.''
Rivera's reflections are actually about how he plans to handle this year's QB situation. It is largely assumed that 38-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick, the newly-signed $10 million free agent, will be handed the job. In fact, though, it's probably smarter to say he will win the job after a competition staged by Rivera.
The lesson learned by Rivera, a veteran coach who enters his second year in Washington: Competition - even amid assumptions - is king.
Last summer, in Rivera's first season with the WFT, he elected to work Haskins exclusively with the starters during training camp, essentially handing him the starting QB job months before the season began. There was some logic to it at the time; the investment in Haskins was substantial, the concept had the backing of the owner (it was Daniel Snyder who actually made the Haskins selection, after all), and it was a streamlined way to hope that one position was solid, thus freeing the head coach to get to work on other areas of team development.
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The team developed just fine, as while using four different QBs, including the now-retired Alex Smith, the WFT found a way to rebound to a record of 7-9, good enough to win the NFC East and to advance to the playoffs.
Along the way, Haskins, the 2019 first-rounder, was released. He's since joined the Pittsburgh Steelers as a reclamation project. And entering his second season at the helm in Washington, Rivera plans on holding an open competition prior to naming a starting quarterback, with Fitzpatrick ideally getting a positive push from Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen and Steven Montez.
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"I thought [Haskins] was ready to take a step and take every opportunity,'' said Rivera, who thought wrong - and doesn't plan on making the same error again.