Washington Redskins training camp concluded Sunday in Richmond with no indication from Coach Jay Gruden which quarterback will start for Washington in the regular season opener Sept. 8. None of the quarterbacks vying for the No. 1 spot separated himself in the competition over the past three weeks, but former Redskins running back Clinton Portis would remove at least one name in the trio of Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy and Case Keenum from consideration.
“I think you should let Haskins sit, and I said you shouldn’t put Haskins on the field before the bye week,” Portis told 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Friday, one day after Haskins threw a pair of interceptions in the preseason opener. “And listening to Joe Theismann on the call [of Thursday’s game], Joe feels similar. He said you shouldn’t put him on the field before next year. I think it’s kind of agreed upon that Haskins should sit, he should rest, he should be able to pick up the game, because he’s going to grow so much.”
Theismann has said that sitting Haskins, the 15th pick in April’s draft, is the “best scenario” for the rookie out of Ohio State and that starting him early in the season is “a formula for disaster.” After opening on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins host the defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys, play the Chicago Bears on Monday night and then get what amounts to a breather against the New York Giants before a Week 5 date with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Washington’s bye is in Week 10.
“You could go get Drew Brees or bring Peyton Manning back, with those first five games, it’s going to be really tough to win those games,” Portis said. “So why put Haskins in that fire? Because those are going to equate to losses. And if he fails and you’re 0-5 or you’re 1-4 and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, boo! Boo!’ what do you do, go out and draft another quarterback next year? Give him the opportunity to grow, to get better, and wait for the package. There’s no rush. There’s no speed delivery. Allow him to grow and become the quarterback that you felt you saw and you drafted.”
Not everyone thinks it’s in the Redskins’ best interests to sit Haskins for a majority of the season. Portis’s former teammate Chris Cooley said last week that Gruden needs to find out what he has in the rookie sooner rather than later, and that means playing him.
“I don’t believe [Haskins] can start and win right away, but if you’re the Washington Redskins, it’s going to come down to what you want to see,” ESPN analyst and former Redskins safety Ryan Clark said Friday on “Get Up.” “We know what Case Keenum is; we know what Colt McCoy is. Is Jay Gruden’s job tied to the success of Dwayne Haskins?”
Gruden hasn’t ruled out Haskins winning the starting job. He told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer that he hopes to decide on his Week 1 starter by the end of Washington’s third preseason game Aug. 22, adding that McCoy and Keenum “have a little bit of a leg up” on Haskins by virtue of their NFL experience.
“There’s a lot Dwayne still has to learn, but he can get there,” Gruden said.
Portis, who served as a sideline reporter during the Redskins’ 30-10 loss to the Browns last week, was impressed with Haskins’s debut, despite his two interceptions.
“That opening pass of the game gave you all the hope in everything that you wish for in getting him,” Portis said of Haskins’s 27-yard completion on his first snap. “… He has three games to grow and show you more. This was a starting point. You start in Week 1 and you finish at Week 4, and you just want to see growth between that.”
McCoy remains the favorite to begin the season as Washington’s starter, but Haskins could make Gruden’s decision more difficult by showing more and cutting down on his mistakes over the next two weeks.
“You saw Dwayne Haskins do things in that game that both Colt McCoy and Case Keenum struggle to do consistently,” ESPN analyst and former NFL linebacker Bobby Carpenter said Friday on “Get Up.” “You’re going to keep throwing him out there the next couple of weeks, and if by Week 3 of the preseason, if you’ve seen him take those steps and he’s not throwing the interceptions and there’s just a little bit to clean up, you’ve got to go with him.”
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