Given the Redskins’ numerous injuries to offensive starters and that Gruden had repeatedly said the first-round draft pick wasn’t ready to play, former Redskins scout and director of player personnel Louis Riddick, now an analyst with ESPN, called the move “one of the worst decisions” he has seen this year “as far as how people are handling young quarterbacks."
“Why would you put him in there under any circumstances?” Riddick said on ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown.” “It reeks of an agenda, to me, as far as he’s not ready to play, the team is suffering. You’ve heard all along, going back to the draft, that the front office wanted one [quarterback in the draft], the coaching staff wanted another guy. That type of thing, right off the bat, you think Dwayne Haskins doesn’t hear that? You think he feels totally supported in this entire process? I talk all the time about setting people up for success. That young man, right now, is being set up for failure, and [team owner] Dan Snyder needs to recognize that. … He should’ve never went in that football game [on Sunday].”
Riddick’s ESPN colleague Stephen A. Smith agreed and called for Gruden to be fired immediately.
“I’m all about people getting their money, and I hope that Jay Gruden keeps his money,” Smith said Monday on “First Take.” “The man’s got to go. I’m talking about now. Jay Gruden needs to go now. He’s not the guy. [Sunday] was an indictment against him. I thought we saw a guy in Dwayne Haskins that Jay Gruden had no intentions of playing, who was ill-prepared to be in that game. … Dwayne Haskins did not look like somebody that had been practicing [with the first team]. You can’t do that to that kid.”
“I call it coaching malpractice,” former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky replied. “That’s often why we see young quarterbacks in the NFL get ruined.”
NFL Network’s Steve Wyche questioned Gruden’s motivation for calling upon Haskins with the Redskins trailing 14-0 in the second quarter. After the game, Gruden said he was concerned that Keenum, who missed a pair of touchdown throws, was bothered by a sore foot that kept him out of practice one day last week.
“The question you have to be asking about Washington moving forward is, did Gruden put [Haskins] out there to say, ‘Look, he wasn’t ready, like I’ve been telling you’?” Wyche said on “NFL Now.” “From everything I’ve heard, Jay Gruden has total control over the quarterback decision.”
On Pro Football Talk’s Overtime Live, Chris Simms wondered about Gruden’s handling of his team’s quarterback situation.
“If they knew going into the game that [Keenum] might be on a short leash, and he has a banged-up foot, they should’ve just gone with Dwayne Haskins to start the week because they put Dwayne Haskins in a tough spot,” Simms said. “He didn’t really get the full week of practice and reps with the first team to put him in position [to succeed], nor did the team get to game-plan specifically around him and put a game plan together that accentuates his strengths and hides some of the flaws. I just don’t get that.”
“This playing of Haskins Sunday, to me, was stupid,” said The Team 980′s Steve Czaban. “He got no reps this week. He had no reps before, and you thought that Keenum was the best guy to give you a chance to win.”
So, where do the Redskins go from here? The Team 980′s Doc Walker said he thinks it’s “a foregone conclusion” that Colt McCoy will start against the Patriots if he’s healthy, and that might be best for Haskins.
“I’d love to see him play with the benefit of a running game,” Walker said of the rookie. “What’re the odds of that actually happening? Slim to none. Why kid yourself? Why put him through it? It’s not worth it.”
Czaban likened starting Haskins against the Patriots’ top-ranked defense to a “suicide mission,” and former Redskins running back Clinton Portis remains of the opinion that the former Ohio State star needs to spend more time as the backup.
“Dwayne Haskins does not need to be on the field,” Portis told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on 106.7 The Fan. “You saw [Sunday] … the development he still needs. Dwayne Haskins, I think he has a huge upside once he develops and gets a full grasp of this system. I think he’s going to be great in it. … If you continuously leave Haskins on the field with what we’re facing and we don’t succeed, then guess what people are going to be asking for at the end of the season, with the first pick [in the draft]?”
The Team 980′s Kevin Sheehan has a different take.
“There’s no pressure to win games anymore this year,” he said Monday. “The rest of this season is about rebooting and finding out, from a player perspective, who’s going to be a part of your future. If Dwayne Haskins isn’t ready, get him ready! If he can’t handle the full playbook, cut it in half! If he doesn’t give your team the best chance to win games this year, who the hell cares? He’s got to be ready to give your team the best chance to win games next year and the following year and the year after that. If he’s not the right guy, we need to know that now, this year.”
Sheehan wouldn’t wait to start Haskins in Week 6 against the winless Miami Dolphins, either. He argued that the Patriots represent an opportunity for the rookie that should be embraced.
“He’s not afraid,” Sheehan said. “His psyche isn’t fragile. He played at Ohio State in much bigger games and in front of much bigger crowds than the ones he’s going to play in for the rest of the year. Instead of fearing the worst for him against the big, bad Patriots, why not consider the upside of him playing well? It’s no-lose.”
“At this point, what else can go wrong?” former Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss asked Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. “If you had enough confidence in the kid [on Sunday], go ahead and put him out there against the Patriots. I think he’s only going to get better.”
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