- The Washington Times - Monday, September 30, 2019

ASHBURN — On the day after his team dropped its fourth straight game of the season, coach Jay Gruden tried to be coy about the Redskins’ quarterback situation.

But then, he temporarily broke character.

“I can make a decision now,” Gruden said when asked about naming a starter. “I might have already made a decision.”

The moment was the closest Gruden got Monday to revealing who will start Sunday against the New England Patriots. In Washington’s 24-3 loss to the New York Giants, the Redskins benched Case Keenum for rookie Dwayne Haskins.

Despite the move, Gruden declined to name Haskins the full-time starter moving forward.

Instead, Gruden said he wants to see how his quarterbacks respond in practice this week, adding he needs to get injury updates on Keenum and Colt McCoy before determining a starter.

Keenum, who has been dealing with a foot injury, wore a walking boot for precautionary reasons after Sunday’s loss, Gruden said. McCoy, on the other hand, is working his back from a leg injury, which kept him sidelined for a month-and-a-half before returning to practice last week.

“I’m going to let it play out because I need to see these guys perform,” Gruden said. “I don’t need to make an announcement and then change my mind on Friday. … Hopefully, someone will take the job and run.”

In any event, Haskins did not perform well enough to lock down the job. The 22-year-old threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and went 9 of 17 for 107 yards. After reviewing the film, Gruden said the Redskins “weren’t on the same page” when Haskins was in the game.

That doesn’t mean Haskins has been ruled out of starting against New England. But if he had performed better, Gruden likely would have given him a stronger vote of confidence. Gruden, too, has been clear Haskins needs further development — and wasn’t planning on playing him until Keenum struggled for the second straight week.

Gruden, though, said he wouldn’t hesitate in playing Haskins if he determined the rookie gave Washington the best chance to pull off the upset.

The Redskins opened as 15-point underdogs to the Patriots, and some had wondered if it would be a wiser decision to let Haskins sit. That way, the Ohio State’s product first start wouldn’t come against the defending Super Bowl champions, who also have given up just one defensive touchdown this season.

Running back Chris Thompson said Haskins would embrace the challenge, should he be given the start.

“He’s been in big games, although that’s college, it’s still a big game,” Thompson said. “If he’s asked to be the guy, I don’t think he’s going to be nervous or anything like that at all. … We know what’s ahead of us. I think he’d be excited for that opportunity to step up and play against Tom Brady. That’s somebody he looks up to.

“I know it would mean everything for him to say ‘Oh I beat Tom Brady in my first start.’ But we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

McCoy could be the most realistic option, granted he’s healthy enough to play. The 32-year-old was a real threat in the Redskins’ quarterback competition this summer before he re-aggravated his leg injury in August. McCoy felt discomfort when pushing off to throw, causing the Redskins to shut him down until recently.

Asked about the possible upside of playing McCoy, Gruden pointed to the backup’s experience. The two have been linked together for six years and Gruden has always been fond of McCoy.

The concern, however, will be if McCoy can stay upright. Last season, the oft-injured quarterback started only two games before he broke his leg on “Monday Night Football” in Philadelphia.

McCoy has started six games for Washington in six seasons, leading the Redskins to a 1-5 record.

“From an experience standpoint in this offense … it does help that when I call a play we’ve been running for five or six years that you know where to look and what side of the field to read as opposed to seeing it for the first time, like Case and Dwayne,” Gruden said.

Gruden said in addition to waiting for updates on Keenum and McCoy, he’ll also talk to Haskins to evaluate his progress.

“I’ll make that determination (on the starter),” Gruden said. “I think it will depend on the decision I make and then how that person performs on Thursday and Friday.”


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