- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Dwayne Haskins, like many athletes of his generation, usually has a lot to say on social media.

On Tuesday, he tweeted just four words: “Let’s go to work.”

It’s a phrase used often by new Redskins coach Ron Rivera, and the tweet came about the time news broke that Scott Turner would be joining Rivera’s staff as offensive coordinator.

Over the next few months, the 22-year-old will have to prove to Rivera and Turner that he is the right quarterback to implement the new regime’s system. At the coach’s introductory press conference last week, Rivera said Haskins would have to learn how to be a leader, mentioning the other veteran quarterbacks on the team’s roster “will get some opportunities to play as well.”

The new coach later told 106.7 The Fan that whoever starts at quarterback for the team next season will have to earn the job.

“I’m not sitting there and anointing anybody,” he said. “This is a competition.”

Rivera isn’t the first Redskins coach under owner Dan Snyder to inherit a quarterback situation complicated by expectations, entitlements and front-office concerns.

When the Redskins hired Jay Gruden in 2014, the coach was tasked with “fixing” Robert Griffin III, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner the Redskins traded away their future to obtain.

Gruden had done wonders for Andy Dalton in Cincinnati, and Washington hoped for something similar. Instead, Griffin and Gruden clashed and the coach famously tore into the quarterback a day after a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“Not even close to being good enough,” Gruden said, offering a detailed critique of Griffin’s footwork. “He took three-step drops when he should have taken five.”

Griffin was benched in Gruden’s first season and lost his starting job permanently in 2015.

Before the Gruden era, back in 2010, the front office asked former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan to get the best out of an aging Donovan McNabb, the veteran the team had acquired in a move Shanahan later classified as a decision driven by Snyder.

At first, Shanahan raved about McNabb — “He’s everything that you look for in a quarterback,” he said in April 2010. — but the relationship quickly soured. Shanahan benched McNabb six games into his first season, suggesting the veteran was out of shape and didn’t know the playbook. “When (McNabb) was in the game, he was not doing the things — or at least calling the plays consistently,” Shanahan said when he sat McNabb for Rex Grossman.

Years later in a radio interview, Shanahan said he was against the McNabb trade.

“I didn’t want to give up the draft choices, but we wound up doing that,” Shanahan said in 2015. “And the decision was made, and I think mainly from Dan. Even though Bruce orchestrated the trade. I think Dan was the guy that really wanted Donovan the most.”

Snyder’s reported influence on the quarterback position has been a frequent topic of conversation and criticism over his 20 years as owner. 

In 2000, former Redskins QB Brad Johnson accused Snyder of being responsible for the team turning to Jeff George. Former coach Steve Spurrier has said he wasn’t allowed to pick the quarterbacks he wanted during his second year with the Redskins.

A 2017 ESPN profile of Kirk Cousins noted that in 2012, Snyder “breezed” right past the quarterback who had led Washington to a victory in Cleveland to check on Griffin, who enjoyed a personal relationship with the owner few other players shared.

Not surprisingly, Haskins’ relationship with Snyder has been under close scrutiny since his arrival last April.

Before the draft, Snyder reportedly pushed for Washington to draft the Ohio State product, who played high school ball at Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland — a private school attended by the owner’s son. 

Last month, Haskins raised a few eyebrows when he said “Dan” told him he was done for the day after suffering an ankle injury. The team quickly backpedaled, clarifying that the owner was simply telling his star player to follow the medical staff’s advice.

Now it’s up to Rivera to navigate Haskins’ development. If the pairing doesn’t work, Rivera could be the one having to convince Snyder to go in a different direction.

But first, there will be minicamps. Practices. Training camp. Drills. And Haskins has to prove himself.

“I think he can become a franchise-style quarterback,” Rivera said. “It’s a process, though. I’m not going to say it’s going to happen overnight.”



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