As with all business conducted inside that Ashburn fortress, what should be a simple move at this stage of a lost season — putting your No. 1 draft choice out there at quarterback to determine if indeed the league “done messed up,” as Haskins claimed on draft night when he fell to the 15th selection in Round 1, lower than where the Ohio State quarterback believed he should be — is complicated.
Right there is one problem — Haskins believed he should have gone higher in the draft, and the coaches and most of the Washington player personnel people felt he should have fallen further, perhaps to the second round.
So that puts Washington in the position of being reluctant to conduct normal business — putting their No. 1 draft choice on the field with nothing else to play for this season — because he is probably not a No. 1 draft choice quarterback.
It’s exhausting, sometimes, trying to follow the conflicting agendas, complicated motives and back-room intrigue of a franchise that is so unworthy of the attention.
With Case Keenum recovering from a concussion, Haskins started Sunday in the 24-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He did nothing to convince anyone that the league “done messed up.” His performance — 15-of-22 for 144 yards, no touchdowns and no turnovers — wasn’t scintillating, but neither did he do anything to justify this seeming reluctance to give the rookie the keys.
On Monday, heading into a bye week, Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan refused to name his starter for the Nov. 17 game against the New York Jets. “I’m going to take my time on that,” he said.
Callahan went on to say he wanted to gather more information and look at “a lot of different things” and would not budge despite repeated questions about his reluctance to name Haskins the starter.
Then on Wednesday, the NFL Network reported that the expectation would be that Haskins would be the starter against the Jets, according to sources.
Then 106.7 The Fan reported that before Callahan’s press conference, Haskins had spoken with Doug Williams, the team’s senior vice president, and left that meeting under the impression he was the starter moving forward. But Williams reportedly called Rick “Doc” Walker on Team 980 radio and told him that no such meeting took place.
No team can twist itself into a stale pretzel like the Washington Redskins can.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this intrigue is the NBC Sports Washington report that Callahan has total control over his roster and personnel decisions — something Jay Gruden, who was the head coach for this team for more than five years, did not have. This was the agreement Callahan insisted on before taking over as the interim coach when Gruden was fired last month.
Think about that — if true, only the Redskins would have an interim coach with more power than the five-year head coach.
Would owner Dan Snyder, who was the force inside the building behind the drafting of Haskins, over the objections of Gruden and other football people in the building, really get rid of the coach who stood in the way of starting his prized rookie quarterback and then give the interim coach the power to stop the owner from forcing his hand and starting Haskins?
Of course he would. Redskins Park is the place where the unbelievable becomes reality. It’s the Chinatown of the NFL — “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.”
And what does “control” over the roster actually mean? After all, couldn’t Snyder simply get rid of Callahan like he did Gruden? This would be new dysfunctional ground for the Redskins — firing an interim coach.
If it was that simple to demand control over the roster, you would have thought that when the boys were all sitting around the dinner table at Prime 47 steak house in Indianapolis one late night in March 2017 celebrating the backstabbing of general manager Scot McCloughan, after about 10 bottles of wine and working out a contract extension for Gruden, the coach could have said, “Hey, Dan, how about adding control over the roster in there? Let’s have another bottle of wine!”
It is hard to imagine that come a week from Sunday, Haskins isn’t the starter at Ghost Town Field. If not, then you have to wonder why Snyder is so scared to wield his power in this one instance to get his quarterback on the field.
• Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.
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