When a coach is hired by an NFL team, it's colloquially known as a regime change for a reason. The hired coach likes to bring in "his" guys; players and coaches he knows will buy into the system and culture he is tasked with installing within his new organization.
This is precisely what happened in Washington. After Ron Rivera was hired, he brought in Scott Turner to be the team's offensive coordinator after he spent a year and a half with Turner as his quarterbacks coach in Carolina. Rivera also had the team sign Kyle Allen, who started most of Rivera's final season with the Panthers once Cam Newton went down for the year.
That series of decisions didn't feel like a great sign for Washington's incumbent quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Haskins was picked No. 15 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft by the same front office that was sent packing by owner Dan Snyder after the season was over. Haskins was a project of a prospect, and everybody knew that. He started seven games last year and looked every bit the part of a player who will need some time to develop. Which makes perfect sense! He only started for a year at Ohio State before entering the draft. The arm talent was clear as day. Everything else needed work.
It seems patience is not the virtue Rivera is looking to instill in this organization. The news broke today that Haskins not only was losing his starting QB job to the aforementioned Kyle Allen, but he was also getting demoted to the third spot on the depth chart. Behind Alex Smith, who could not walk a year ago at this time. His story is inspirational, but is there anybody on Earth who thinks he is more qualified to come in were an injury to occur over Haskins, who did not suffer a catastrophic leg injury in the last 24 months? Ron Rivera does, apparently.
At practice today, Haskins didn't even get reps. Every other quarterback did. Including practice squad QB Steven Montez.
Look, Haskins has definitely been bad through the first four games of the season. He ranks 27th among all quarterbacks in completion percentage, 27th in yards per attempt, 29th in TD percentage, and 29th in QB rating. He's thrown four touchdowns and three interceptions along with one lost fumble. The numbers by themselves merit a benching.
But peek even an inch past the surface level and one could find plenty of justification for keeping him as the starter. First, he's 23-years-old, and Sunday marked the 11th game he's started in his career. Washington doesn't even have a full season for a sample size and made the call anyway. He's been sacked on 8.2 percent of his dropbacks, seventh-worst in the league, and only four other quarterbacks have been sacked more this season. Haskins has one good wide receiver in Terry McLaurin, but that's about it. The team's starting running back is Antonio Gibson, a third-round rookie. Logan Thomas, a quarterback turned into a tight end, is Haskins' second-leading receiver.
Then there's who's replacing him. Allen started 12 games for the Panthers last season and did not exactly blow anybody away. In fact, his 2019 stats are equal to or worse than Haskins' four games this season in several categories. Allen finished with a worse QB rating than Haskins has right now (80.3 vs. 80.0). Allen threw 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Haskins is on pace to throw 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Allen had a completion percentage exactly one point higher than Haskins has right now (62 percent vs. 61 percent), and his 6.8 yards per attempt is barely more than Haskins' 6.4 yards per attempt.
With good faith in mind, Allen is only 24. Just as Haskins should not be judged for his first 11 games as an NFL starter, we shouldn't consider Allen a permanent backup based off his first 12 games. But one of those guys threw for FIFTY touchdowns at Ohio State. The other peaked at 17 touchdowns thrown for Texas A&M in 2017. They very well could end up being very similar players despite their vastly different paths to the NFL, but anybody would give Haskins a shot over Allen because that's the difference the gap in talent can make in the league. Anybody except the guy who coached Allen last season, apparently.
Not to mention that Haskins is coming off his best game of the season! He threw for 314 yards and completed 71 percent of his passes against the Baltimore Ravens. He did not throw a touchdown, but he also did not throw an interception, and he ran for a TD. Sure, they still lost, but losing to the Ravens, boasting the league MVP and coming off a 14-2 season, is no mark of shame. Hell, only losing by 14 should be considered an accomplishment for a team so clearly rebuilding like the Football Team.
It's painfully transparent that Rivera just prefers "his" guy despite the stats suggesting there's very little on-field difference. Sometimes, that's just how it goes. Life ain't fair. But from the outside, it seems that Rivera did not participate in the act of due diligence here. He simply seized the earliest opportunity to insert a player he trusted with a lower ceiling in order to win next week instead of potentially setting up his team to win more games in the long-term. It sucks for Haskins, and it sucks for whatever fans of the Football Team remain.