Make no mistake about it, Haskins is Dan Snyder’s quarterback. He ordered his football people to draft him with the 15th pick in the first round, he was the only player Snyder met with at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, and he got the call that he was a Redskin from Snyder himself. Lest we forget, Haskins went to the same school, Bullis, as Snyder’s son and, according to one story, they were friends.
None of that means necessarily that Haskins was the wrong selection, or that Haskins won’t be a successful NFL quarterback. Many NFL observers predict greatness for Haskins, even after his erratic performance in the first preseason game Thursday against Cleveland.
Heck, Haskins himself predicts greatness
“It’s just going to happen naturally, organically,” Haskins told ESPN. “I had to come to terms with that. Now that I’ve been here for a little bit, it’s like, man, it’s a process. … By no means am I settling. I know that I want to be great and I know I will be great. It’s just that I have to be in a place where I know what I’m doing.”
Nothing wrong with a young quarterback with confidence. We remember Robert Griffin III telling WJLA-TV in August 2015 that he was “the best quarterback on this team. I feel like I’m the best quarterback in the league and I have to go out and show that. Any athlete at any level, if they concede to someone else, they’re not a top competitor, they’re not trying to be the best that they can be. There’s guys in this league that have done way more than me. But, I still view myself as the best because that’s what I work toward every single day.”
He was benched a few days later in favor of Kirk Cousins.
That was a difficult process, as then-general manager Scot McCloughan and coach Jay Gruden engaged in a campaign to convince Snyder that Griffin had to be benched for the good of the team.
There seems to be another behind-the-scenes campaign taking place concerning Haskins and the starting quarterback job for the Washington Redskins. But it’s not clear if it is targeted toward the owner or being driven by him.
Former Redskins running back Clinton Portis and Washington Super Bowl quarterback Joe Theismann, both part of the team’s preseason telecast, are card-carrying members of Snyder’s army. They are loyal to the organization and the owner. I’m not suggesting they are Snyder puppets. But if they are going to weigh in such a controversial decision as to whether or not Haskins should open the season as the Redskins starter, it is going to be done carefully, with consideration, of the owner.
“I think it’s kind of agreed upon that Haskins should sit, he should rest, he should be able to pick up the game because he’s going to grow so much. You have Case (Keenum), who’s a proven quarterback, you have Colt (McCoy) coming back from an injury, who’s a proven quarterback, let those guys play.
“There’s no rush to throw Haskins into the situation because in this city if Haskins goes out and has failure early on and this city turns against him by Week 5 or Week 6 because you have a tough schedule (Eagles, Cowboys, Bears, Giants, Patriots),” Portis said. “I don’t care who’s your quarterback, you could get Drew Brees or bring Peyton Manning back, with those first five games it’s gonna be really tough to win those games. So, why put Haskins in that fire? Those are going to equate to losses. And if he fails and you’re 0-5 or you’re 1-4, and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, boo, boo!’ What do you do, go out and draft another quarterback next year?
“Give him the opportunity to grow, to get better, and wait for the package, there’s no rush,” Portis said. “Allow him to grow and become the quarterback that you saw and you drafted.”
Theismann went one step further several weeks earlier in an interview on 106.7 The Fan. He said Haskins should sit the entire season.
“The young man’s played 13 football games (in college),” he said. “What in that whole entire description makes any sense or convinces you that he should play? To put him out there early against those teams, it’s just a formula for disaster for the team, for Jay, for the fans, everybody else,” I think the young man is our future and let’s protect the future instead of throwing it out there right now and saying, ‘OK, go get ‘em.’”
Starting him would be a disaster? The city would turn against him? Pretty strong words. But they’re right.
What’s not clear is who this message is directed to — are they delivering a message from the owner to a damaged fan base that will not likely be pleased if Haskins is not behind center when the season begins? Is it to prepare them for the longer-term hope — a big ask for Redskins fans who have had long-term despair under Snyder?
Or is it a message on behalf of Gruden and the coaching staff to the owner to back him off any pressure to start Haskins before he is ready?
It is a message, a well-thought out one, and for once, the right message.
⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.
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