Training camp starts in five weeks for Washington, but we can’t help looking ahead. Speculating isn’t just fun, it’s also a terrific way to kill time and feed the media beast. Insatiable NFL fans would die of hunger without the year-round buffet of opinion, conjecture and guesswork.
The main course in D.C. is rookie Dwayne Haskins, whose position in the draft and on the field make him the subject of national attention. The clock for first-round quarterbacks starts ticking the moment they shake hands with commissioner Roger Goodell, commencing a start-or-sit debate that can continue through the entire regular season.
Consider two rookie QBs in 2017.
Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes didn’t play until getting the start in Week 17, a meaningless game for the Chiefs’ playoff standing. Mahomes then started every game last season and won the league’s MVP award. Conversely, Houston’s Deshaun Watson was slated for bench duty but entered the season-opener at halftime. He threw 19 touchdown passes in his first seven games, immediately raising doubts about coach Bill Bradley’s thought process.
Reducing Mahomes to a spectator his first year worked out pretty well.
Allowing Watson to play from the get-go netted positive results, too.
The right course of action for teams and rookie QBs — including Washington and Haskins — isn’t one-size-fits-all. But that doesn’t stop us from sharing hunches.
Washington legend Joe Theismann stated that putting Haskins on the field early “is a formula for disaster. I think the young man is our future,” Theismann said last week on 106.7 The Fan.”Let’s protect the future instead of throwing it out there right now.”
We know where Theismann stands but we don’t think he has a vote. Influence? Maybe, especially considering reports that he and owner Dan Snyder are sailing buddies. If so, Theismann could face a heavy lift because Snyder presumably wants Haskins to play sooner than later.
Ideally, such a decision wouldn’t involve anyone outside of the football operations department, primarily head coach Jay Gruden, who’d likely consult with team president Bruce Allen.
But Washington’s NFL team is more unreal than ideal.
“I know there’s words out there that (Haskins) might end up starting, and that could happen,” senior VP of player personnel Doug Williams told NFL Network on Tuesday. “But at the end of the day, it’s going to be Jay, myself, probably Bruce and the owner. After what (Haskins) does during the preseason and we see where we are as a team to make that decision.”
Collaborative efforts are swell, and organizations can benefit when multiple points-of-view are considered along the way to choosing a path.
However, in a foursome of Gruden, Williams, Allen and Snyder, how much weight does the coach carry? If the other three hold a contrary opinion — or, say it’s Gruden-Williams on one side of the argument with Allen-Snyder on the opposite side — who gets the final say?
Yes, these questions are premature.
There isn’t enough to go on yet. Training camp should make the matter a little clearer. The discussion could be moot as the exhibitions wind down and Week 1 draws near. There’s no need to decide either way at this moment; the time will come soon enough.
“I don’t want to say he’s going to start Game 1 today,” Williams said. “But it’s been a pleasant and enjoyable scene to see what Dwayne Haskins has done over the last few weeks.”
Let’s just enjoy the competition and let it play out.
There’s no guarantee that naming Haskins as the starter will be a disaster. But there’s also no guarantee that Case Keenum and Colt McCoy will beat him for the job. Whichever side you’re on, there is ammunition to buttress your position, examples of rookie quarterbacks who started too soon and flopped, and rookie quarterbacks who started right away and soared.
We can weigh Haskins’ lack of starting experience, taking snaps under center, and calling his own plays. We can analyze his ability to get everyone lined up properly, make pre-snap reads, and go through his progressions. We can ponder how he’ll fare against regular-season defenses compared to the vanilla versions he’ll face in exhibitions games.
None of that is changing before camp starts in Richmond on July 25. What’s more, every concern outside of arm talent will remain when Washington visits Philadelphia for the season opener on Sept. 8.
Haskins might not see the field for Washington’s first possession that afternoon. But given good health, he’s a virtual lock to start the season finale at Dallas on Dec. 29.
The timing of the transition is uncertain.
And we’re going to belabor the point from now until then.
⦁ Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.
• Deron Snyder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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