Six games into the NFL season, and the Washington Football Team’s outlook at quarterback is as rocky as ever.
First, it was former first-rounder Dwayne Haskins starting for the first four games of the season. Then, Haskins was benched after lackluster performance and some reported maturity issues. He was not only benched, he was sent to the third string behind Kyle Allen and Alex Smith.
Allen took over as starter, but had to exit his second game with an injury and was replaced by Smith. Even when Allen was cleared to return, Smith stayed in the game.
Heading into Sunday, it still appears to be Allen penciled in as starter, but head coach Ron Rivera is still fielding questions about Haskins’ development. And giving conflicting answers.
Ron Rivera admits to mixed messaging with Dwayne Haskins
Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Rivera acknowledged that his handling of the Washington quarterback battle hasn’t been entirely even.
“One thing I’ve learned is you have to treat everybody fair but you’re not going to be able to treat everybody the same,” he said in a video conference with media. “Well, it’s the same thing with situations. You treat each situation as it comes along, and that’s kind of where we are. ... That’s why I make the decisions that I make, and it does look a little inconsistent. But the consistency is that I’m going to make them based on what I know, on my gut feelings on things. Hopefully they’re good decisions, and if not, we’ll know and I’ll take responsibility, that’s for doggone sure.”
The inconsistent messaging started with Rivera’s public commitment to Haskins and his growing pains just a week before his benching, but another came with his handling of Allen.
As ESPN notes, Rivera stated there was a cutoff point for Haskins to cement himself as Washington’s QB1 shortly before benching him. When asked if Allen had a similar cutoff point, Rivera said he didn’t have one, then claimed he never had one for Haskins either:
“Can they change? Absolutely,” Rivera said of his thinking. “That’s part of my prerogative as a head coach is that I can change my mind because if I’m wrong, I’ll admit it. That’s one thing I’ve told you guys is that I’ll take the responsibility because I’m the one making the decisions.”
Rivera reportedly claimed to be following the coaching philosophy he learned under John Madden. Throughout his career, Rivera has been known for going with his gut.
This might not be the end of Rivera’s decisions in the quarterback room, as Allen hasn’t exactly blown the doors off the competition since taking over. In two games, Allen as 354 passing yards (6.4 per attempt), two touchdowns and an interception.
More importantly, Washington is 0-2, and the idea behind Allen starting was that he gave the team the best shot at stealing a playoff berth in a comically weak NFC East. If the team isn’t winning with him, going back to the quarterback recently tabbed as the future of the franchise might not be so bad. Or the team could just add another quarterback to the equation.
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