- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2019

ASHBURN — Joe Somerstein was just about ready to abandon his lifelong New York Giants fandom. The weekly gatherings to watch games with his friends had all but stopped over the past few years as losses piled up. The 29-year-old New York resident had gradually been paying less attention.

But something funny happened over the weekend as he watched Daniel Jones lead an 18-point comeback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — he felt hope.

“It’s almost like (my fandom has) been rejuvenated,” Somerstein said.

Somerstein and his friends now plan to meet Sunday at one of their apartments when the Giants take on the Redskins because of their excitement for Jones. In just one start, the rookie quarterback has galvanized New York’s fan base. The New York Post even re-created Barack Obama’s “HOPE” campaign poster, using Jones‘ image on the back page of Tuesday’s paper this week.

It’s the latest reminder of how a young quarterback can re-energize a fan base, and draws as a stark contrast to the Redskins’ handling of Dwayne Haskins. Despite calls for the rookie to start in New York, coach Jay Gruden is sticking by quarterback Case Keenum in light of his five-turnover performance in Monday’s loss to the Chicago Bears.

Even with an 0-3 start, Gruden has said the season is not lost and wants to see Keenum get continuity with the offense.

Keenum missed practice Wednesday with a foot injury, but Gruden said he assumes the 31-year-old will play against New York.

“Dwayne is on pace,” Gruden said. “He just needs to continue to sit back and learn and continue to develop.”

The Redskins had preached patience when they drafted Haskins 15th overall out of Ohio State. Yet after three straight losses, cries to play for the quarterback have gotten loud. In recent days, Gruden has received criticism for his handling of Haskins as the rookie has only received scout team reps in practice.

But Gruden’s approach isn’t out of the ordinary.

Before Jones started in Week 3, Giants coach Pat Shurmur said Eli Manning took the lion’s share of work, designating only one or two reps for Jones in each practice period.

Jones and Haskins, too, both worked off to the side during their practices to get additional work.

“Each coach handles it differently,” Shurmur said. “But I think it’s fair to say — and Jay does a great job with quarterbacks. I think he would agree with me that you’re doing everything you can in your power to develop all the players all the time. There’s constant development when it comes to quarterbacks.”

Ironically, Giants fans were adamantly against Jones‘ selection in April. When New York took him with the sixth overall pick, Somerstein and his friends were “freaking out” in a group text with each other. The pick was mocked around the league.

The tone changed when Jones threw for 336 yards and scored four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) in his first start — earning him NFC offensive player of the week honors.

Suddenly, the outlook is different for a team that went 8-24 over the last two seasons. Jones may not solve all of New York’s problems, but having a potential franchise quarterback goes a long way in fixing them.

The Redskins, meanwhile, think they have the same in Haskins. But he’ll have to wait, for now.

“Dwayne is still coming along,” Gruden said on a conference call with New York media. “He’s young and I think it’s important for him to sit back and see how to prepare as a pro. He’ll get his time, he’ll get his chance. Just not yet.”

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