ASHBURN, Va. – Dwayne Haskins didn't show enough progress in Ron Rivera's eyes, so he's going from starting quarterback to out of uniform.
Rivera benched Haskins for Washington's next game Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams and turned to Kyle Allen as the new starter. The team is 1-3 and at what the coach believes is a crucial moment of the season in a wide-open NFC East within reach, so he pulled the plug on Haskins despite no pressure to win now.
“I think our best chance to win is putting the ball in somebody else’s hands," Rivera said Wednesday. “I think the best chance to have things done in our offense is in somebody else’s hands. That’s what I’m doing.”
Alex Smith will back up Allen with Haskins inactive after not having enough time to learn a new system in his second year in the NFL. Smith will be active for the first time since breaking his right tibia and fibula Nov. 18, 2018.
Rivera ended the Haskins experiment after a third consecutive loss in just his 11th pro start. Washington's first-year coach defended the 2019 first-round pick for having “an NFL arm” but lamented Haskins not getting enough snaps in offseason workouts, training camp and practice to make him ready for this.
“We gave him every opportunity,” Rivera said. "We gave him a chance to start four games and truly evaluate. But with the division where it is right now, I’d be stupid to not give it a shot and see what happens in the next four games. But I wanted to put it in the hands of someone that knows the situation a little better, backed up by a guy that’s been there.”
Rivera passed on the opportunity to bring in former Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, whom he'd coached for nine seasons dating to his rookie year, preferring to give Haskins an opportunity to keep his starting job. Washington acquired Allen from Carolina instead, and Smith was cleared for full contact 22 months since the broken leg and subsequent medical troubles he had to overcome.
Haskins was made the Week 1 starter, and Rivera saw some of Newton's qualities in the 2019 first-round pick out of Ohio State. Leading a comeback against Philadelphia after no preseason work in new offensive coordinator Scott Turner's system was a good start.