Jay Gruden may or may not be fired this week, though a betting man probably should take the not side of things. Whether or not the Washington Redskins make a change at head coach, defensive coordinator with Greg Manusky or even offensive play-caller, one thing is certain.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins needs to be under center when they take on the New England Patriots next Sunday afternoon at FedEx field.
Haskins entered the game Sunday in relief of starting quarterback Case Keenum. Keenum, who now has an 0-4 record as a starter after the 24-3 defeat at the hands of the New York Giants, regressed in every game he played for the season. It made sense for Washington to go with a veteran to begin the season. Haskins only started one year in college and they brought him along slowly during the offseason. But now that the cat is out of the bag, the franchise would be foolish to reverse course.
Not that the franchise hasn't done several foolish things in recent history, but this is one mistake they cannot make.
Haskins wasn't impressive, by any stretch of the imagination. His performance; nine completions on 17 throws and three interceptions, was nothing to write home about. Context is everything, however.
Haskins has been running the scout team for Washington through the first four weeks. Instead of taking the approach that he knew he'd eventually make the move to Haskins, Gruden has been holding out hope Keenum could earn him a new contract based on wing-and-a-prayer belief Washington could contend on the season. That means that he hasn't even been practicing Gruden's offense.
In the middle of the second quarter of Week 4 is the first time he's extensively run Gruden's game plan since the preseason. Making a judgment on him under those conditions makes little sense.
Objectively, Haskins issues were clear. He didn't have good lower-body mechanics, he was hesitant to release the ball when receivers were open and took unnecessary sacks.
It doesn't matter.
Teams don't recover from an 0-4 start. It's happened once in NFL history, way back in 1992 with the San Diego Chargers. That fate does not await this Washington bunch. So what would be the point of returning to Keenum under center?
In his post-game press conference, Gruden said Keenum's foot, which was in a walking boot early in the week but improved enough to practice, was the reason he was pulled from the contest.
It doesn't matter.
Haskins is only going to improve if he gets snaps.
For his part, Haskins was deferential in his post-game meeting with the media, identifying Keenum as the leader of the team.
It's his turn to be the leader now, because the team has zero direction. If Gruden does survive the week, is there any avenue for him to be brought back outside of having a strong three-quarters season with Haskins taking the snaps? Whether or not Gruden wanted Haskins in the first place is irrelevant at this point.
Bill Belichick doesn't lose to rookie QBs, in fact he makes them look silly. He'd make Keenum look silly, too, so what is there to be afraid of at this point? Assuming rookie WR Terry McLaurin plays after being a game-time scratch due to a hamstring injury, Haskins could get a week of full preparation in and start his journey as the franchise quarterback.
Decisions probably shouldn't be made with the thought process of what the fans want, but the paying customers are fed up. Starting Haskins at least sends a signal that the organization has hope for their future, as opposed to letting Keenum or Colt McCoy continue to take the reigns.