- - Monday, November 4, 2019

Ready or not, there he was.

The Washington Redskins finally started rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins on Sunday and — surprise! — the earth kept spinning on its axis.

The team didn’t implode. Haskins didn’t return in a full body cast. He played the entire game. Washington looked about the same as usual.

Who knew?

Practicing with the starters all week didn’t hurt. Ditto for utilizing a slimmed-down playbook and rush-heavy game plan. All of his studying and preparing paid off in a relatively decent performance. It makes you think Haskins might be further along if this process started sooner.



Now that his first start is out of the way — bringing us to the bye week followed by a game against the awful New York Jets — surely the Haskins Era is here to stay, right?

“Nothing has been decided or determined,” interim coach Bill Callahan told reporters after Buffalo’s 24-9 victory. “I’m just going to give it a little time and go into the bye week, let everything settle, look at the health of Case [Keenum] and see where we’re at as a team.”

He must be kidding.

Enough time has passed to gauge his team’s place. The opposite of “top,” it rhymes with (and smells like) “rotten.” Going with Keenum or Colt McCoy as the starting QB won’t change Washington’s identity or make fans less worthy of witness protection. Haskins‘ progress is actually one of the few reasons to tune in over the final seven games.

Considering that his starting point was subterranean, he should trend in the right direction without much difficulty.

Haskins already demonstrated significant improvement from his previous stints, relief appearances against the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. In those games, he completed 60% and 53% of his passes, respectively, and threw four interceptions combined. Against the Bills, he completed 68 % of his passes and wasn’t picked off.

We’ll never know how much he benefited from riding the bench, but let’s agree that his handling was illogical. Callahan and predecessor Jay Gruden insisted that Haskins wasn’t “ready” and refused to prep him as the starter. Yet they named him as the backup, one snap away from entering the game totally ill-prepared. If they really believed that sitting was best, they should’ve named him the emergency QB. Making him No. 2 when he wasn’t “ready” made no sense.

A game with no turnovers is great; no TDs is problematic. Haskins‘ first NFL touchdown drive might be Washington’s first in 14-or-more quarters. Washington hasn’t cracked the end zone since Oct. 13, when Keenum threw a pair of scoring passes to Terry McLaurin against Miami.

Yes, Keenum could return to the starting lineup and throw two TD passes against the Jets, but Haskins could do likewise for all we know.

Callahan praised the rookie for playing with poise and conveying that sense of calm to his teammates. While Haskins took four sacks, they weren’t necessarily merely rookie mistakes. It should be noted that Buffalo earlier this season recorded five sacks against Tennessee, four against the Jets and three against Philadelphia.

“Yesterday there were about four or five fronts, pressure that we have to adjust to,” Callahan told reporters Monday. “The nature of our business is making those adjustments and getting up to par so we can recognize them and handle them throughout the game. That’s one of the facets I thought he was pretty good at yesterday.”

Yet, the coach stubbornly refused to announce the only rational move, that Haskins will start the remainder of the season. “I’m going to take my time on that and look at a lot of different things because we’ve got time,” Callahan said.

There really aren’t that many things to consider. Washington is 1-8. Haskins was selected at No. 15 in the draft. The team likely will have a high selection next year. It needs to know what it has (or doesn’t have) in Haskins.

One start isn’t enough to draw conclusions, especially when handoffs and short passes are all we see. Seven more starts might not produce a final answer, either, but they should enable leaning in one direction or the other.

“As the game went on, I got more and more confident,” Haskins said Sunday. “I was seeing the field better and better and there were things I saw before it happened. That’s a part of playing quarterback and getting reps. … Hopefully I keep going the rest of the season.”

Indeed.

He’s ready for that much at the very least.

⦁ Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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