ASHBURN — Case Keenum stood at the podium Sunday afternoon a winner. After months of splitting snaps, the Redskins named Keenum their starting quarterback for the upcoming season — with the quarterback beating out first-rounder Dwayne Haskins and veteran Colt McCoy for the nod.
Keenum will start Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles, coach Jay Gruden said.
The Redskins felt Haskins, regarded as the franchise’s future, wasn’t ready to start right away. Throughout the summer, Keenum had received most of Washington’s first-team reps and started in all three preseason games.
Gruden said Haskins’ inexperience played a factor in determining the role, adding Keenum has been productive in practice and in the preseason.
“Case has come in here and picked up the offense extremely well,” Gruden said. ‘Had great confidence and command over the team. … At the end of the day, we have great confidence in Case can lead us to a win at Philadelphia.”
Though he was named as the starter, Keenum said he is excited to “continue to earn the right to be the leader” of the Redskins. The 31-year-old knows if he struggles, fans will clamor for Haskins to take over.
Since entering the league in 2012, Keenum has had to consistently prove himself — as evident by the fact he’s on his fifth team in six years.
Keenum is coming off a season in which he threw for 3,890 yards and 18 touchdowns with 15 interceptions. But the Broncos decided to move on after they finished 6-10 — leading to an offseason trade to the Redskins.
His best season occurred in 2017, when he led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship. Coincidentally, the Vikings lost that game to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Stadium — where the Redskins will open the season on Sept. 8.
“It’s not a good feeling to get that close to what you dream of, what everybody dreams of,” said Keenum, who is 26-28 as a starter. “And to not be able to get that next step, when it’s one step away, it was tough. But I’m definitely motivated.”
While Keenum secured the job, there are questions of whether he can produce in this offense. The quarterback wasn’t overly impressive in the preseason, and the Redskins struggled to move the ball at times. More so, the Redskins have a shaky offensive line and its skill position players are regarded as one of the worst units in the league.
Keenum’s teammates, however, expressed confidence in their quarterback. Running back Adrian Peterson said Keenum was “deserving” of the role, noting his command in the huddle. Wideout Paul Richardson singled out Keenum’s experience.
“I feel like the coaches went somebody they’re more comfortable with,” Richardson said.
As for Haskins, the rookie still must prepare as if he’s the starter, Gruden said. The coach wants the 15th overall pick to build on his performance “day after day,” while continuing to learn.
Asked if he considers Washington’s quarterback competition to be ongoing, Gruden said Keenum is their man for the time being.
“You’ve got to produce, without a doubt,” Gruden said. “We anticipate Case [Keenum] producing. He produces, he’s got nothing to worry about. Moving forward we intend on Case being the guy.”