RICHMOND, VA - JULY 31: Washington Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7), left, Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy (12), and Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum (8) during summer training camp in Richmond, VA on July 31, 2019 . (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
Sports Columnist

Redskins coach Jay Gruden is like a three-card monte player on a street corner. He moves the pieces around, trying to keep anyone from spotting the queen and leaving onlookers guessing.

Gruden might not even play all of the QBs in the three-way competition for the starting job in the preseason opener at Cleveland on Thursday. The trio might not all see action in the second or third games, either, and certainly won’t in the fourth. And the depth chart? Even Gruden said it was just words on paper.

To say it’s a guessing game intended to keep Philadelphia from readying for Washington in the Sept. 8 opener is a reach. It’s the Redskins who aren’t sure who will start.

That makes it so much more interesting. If Colt McCoy were named the Week 1 starter right now, many fans would start driving to the beach rather than watch the preseason games. Same goes for Case Keenum. Maybe one of the veterans will be the better choice over rookie Dwayne Haskins, but the competition is so much more intriguing than the final decision itself.

Redskins fans love quarterback duels. They have often defined this franchise since the early 1970s. Billy Kilmer-Sonny Jurgensen. Doug Williams-Jay Schroeder. Rex Grossman-John Beck. (Ouch, that one really hurt.)

But it’s never been a three-way competition. Well, maybe in 1974 when Joe Theismann arrived and told Kilmer and Jurgensen that their days were done. But it took four years for Theismann to start full-time, and he lost fan support after Kilmer and Jurgensen allied against a mutual foe.

That won’t happen this time. Fans aren’t emotionally invested in any of the three. After all, Keenum and Haskins have never played a game for Washington, and McCoy is just 1-5 as a starter over four seasons.

Fans probably prefer Haskins since the first-rounder is the future. But with the unsettled status of holdout left tackle Trent Williams and a rough opening schedule (four of their first five games are against 2018 playoff teams), it’s not the best situation to break in a rookie. Letting the season’s fate sort itself out before turning to Haskins is a path toward long-term success.

Gruden’s sporting a real poker face on this one. Surely, he has a hunch on who will play the best. Gruden has long liked McCoy, but he has quickly gotten hurt in two prior chances to start in Washington, including a broken leg in his second start last year. Keenum has a better arm than McCoy, but hasn’t stood out in training camp so far. Haskins has looked like the rookie he is at times.

Gruden will let the games decide. At some point, though, a bluff will be called and Gruden will show that hidden card. Hopefully, it’s not a joker.

Read more from Rick Snider:

Redskins’ starting roles are really, really wide open

Trent Williams’ holdout with the Redskins could last a while

Redskins training camp will revolve around the QB carousel

Redskins have a dearth of veteran leaders