- - Tuesday, September 24, 2019

LANDOVER — Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum threw three interceptions Monday against Chicago, including one that was returned for a touchdown.

Dwayne Haskins could’ve done that.

Keenum was sacked four times and lost two fumbles, including one that the Bears recovered to set up an 11-yard TD drive.

QUIZ: Can you match the nickname to the National Football League player?

Haskins could’ve done that.

Keenum made a nice throw for a 15-yard touchdown to rookie wideout Terry McLaurin … and followed with a bounce pass to wide-open Chris Thompson on the 2-point try.

Haskins could’ve done that, too.

This isn’t to suggest that Haskins — not Keenum — should’ve been under center during the 31-15 loss, Washington’s latest chapter in its Monday Night Fiasco history.

Neither QB coordinates a defense that insisted on putting lumbering linebackers on speedy wideouts. Neither throws blocks to slow relentless pass rushers like Khalil Mack & Co. Neither is susceptible to violations for holding, offsides, interference, or other various infractions among Washington’s nine penalties against the Bears.

The question isn’t whether Haskins would’ve led Washington to victory. Three games into an 0-3 season that nearly everyone predicted, the starting quarterback in that trifecta is beside the point. Haskins easily could have the same record as Keenum in burgundy and gold.

No, the issue is whether keeping Haskins on the bench is best for him and best for the team, not necessarily in that order.

“If I didn’t think we had a chance to get better, then I would make a change,” coach Jay Gruden said when asked about the possibility of switching his starting quarterback.

Gruden said continuity is important, that he “can’t be changing people every five minutes.” He mentioned that Keenum is new to the offense, as are several other starters on that side of the ball. “We’re not going to be perfect,” he said, “but we need to be better.”

It doesn’t help that the rival New York Giants — up next on Sunday — have already transitioned to quarterback Daniel Jones, their 2019 first-round draft pick. The Jacksonville Jaguars are playing their rookie QB, Gardner Minshew, out of necessity due to injury. Rookie QB Kyler Murray has started for the Arizona Cardinals since snap one.

A youth movement is overtaking the league at the game’s most important position. Several teams in Washington’s position (expected to go nowhere) have given the reins to youngsters.

Yet Haskins, the No. 15 pick. is stuck on the bench behind Keenum.

Granted, Monday was Keenum’s first true clunker. He finished with 331 passing yards and two touchdowns, leading a comeback attempt that fizzled when he fumbled on a fourth-and-one quarterback sneak. As in the first two games, a portion of his statistics was padding, empty numbers accrued during the contest’s non-competitive segment.

But he protected the ball superbly against Philadelphia and Dallas, which obviously didn’t happen against Chicago.

“To turn it over that many times as a quarterback, I let my team down,” Keenum said. “I really have to take complete responsibility. I have to take care of the ball better. That’s my number one job.”

When a switch is made, the task will fall to Haskins. There are no guarantees he’ll perform better than Keenum. Ugly sacks and multiple turnovers seemingly are part of a quarterback’s initiation process.

The primary concern — depending on whom you ask — isn’t Washington’s 2019 win total under Haskins. It’s how 2019 affects Haskins‘ development moving forward. Gruden’s position is clear because he’s coaching for his job; he believes Keenum provides the best chance to win now.

But the fans who chanted for Haskins on Monday aren’t convinced. At worse, they figure the win probability would remain about the same. Fine. At least Haskins represents something new, bright and shiny, a breath of fresh air for a franchise and fan base that’s suffocating.

The downside could be devastating if folks like former ‘Skins Joe Theismann and Shawn Springs are correct. They have argued that Haskins should continue to sit, lest he become damaged goods playing for an unfinished product.

For now, there’s no real heat to play Haskins. The same will be true even if Washington loses against Jones and the Giants, because New England is next. That means the ‘Skins could be 0-5 when they visit Miami on Oct. 13.

Perhaps Keenum can lead Washington to victory against the Dolphins. Big deal.

Haskins can probably do that, too.

It shouldn’t be much longer before we get to find out.

Brooklyn-born and Howard-educated, Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.

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