Dwayne Haskins got a raw deal. There is no other way to say it.
No player can control where he is drafted, and Haskins landed in The Quarterback Twilight Zone, where careers go to die before they barely begin. It's as if the Washington Football Team looked back at the previous two decades when they still had that terrible, racist nickname and said: Robert Griffin III, Jason Campbell, Patrick Ramsey, Heath Shuler ... Hold our beer, Football Team fans, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Haskins is out. Tossed aside after 11 starts and just 13 appearances spanning 13 months. He has been jettisoned to the rubbish bin as the No. 3 quarterback after fewer than 350 pass attempts, while playing under three coaches, all since being drafted 15th overall just 16 months ago. Heck, the Arizona Cardinals at least gave Josh Rosen nearly 400 pass attempts before they gave up on him a year after drafting him 10th overall. The Washington Football Guys found a way to top that. Well done!
Haskins was a player caught up in a vortex of organizational failure on every level, and -- worst of all in this league when it comes to quarterbacks -- he was a young passer without a benefactor, without anyone left in his building who was truly invested in his success or gave much of a damn about catering to what he did best. He had no advocates, which is a killer in a league where it seems lately more is invested in keeping "system guys" like Matt Schaub and Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert steady getting paychecks forever than is spent in some places truly trying to develop and incubate a struggling novice quarterback.
Let's keep it real here: Sure, Haskins has some blemishes; he ain't perfect. Far from it. He is 23 years old and has some maturity issues (newsflash, so do many young players!) and his work habits may be a work in progress. But he was also a product of his environment.
Haskins only really played one year of big-time college football, and was drafted by a team that came thisclose to firing it's offensive-minded head coach, Jay Gruden, before Haskins had ever even taken a snap. So, of course, Jay Gruden is finally put out of his misery five games into the 2019 season (the entire league knew this was coming before the season started, by the way, as is so often the case during Dan Snyder's regime), Haskins is thrust into a starting role too soon and interim head coach Bill Callahan seemingly wanted little to do with him from the start, and tried to find ways to win games in ways that literally ran counter to what one might expect out of a rebuilding team trying to learn as much as it could about a first-round passer (just keep handing off to the geriatric running back!).
Oh, all the while, the organization was at war with arguably its best player, All Pro left tackle Trent Williams, who vowed never to play for them again back in February of 2019 and was finally traded in the spring of 2020 without playing a snap for them in the interim. So they put Haskins behind a putrid line with a single reliable pass-catching target (fellow Ohio State product Terry McLaurin), they basically sat out fortifying that line until the fifth round of the draft and passed on three rounds worth of receivers in a generational receiver draft (yeah, they took Antonio Gibson in the third round but they converted him to running back ... having him learn a new position in a pandemic without any offseason and a shortened training camp and no preseason games.
But they trumped that by installing an entirely new system in Washington, which in few ways really played to Haskins's strength, and did little to meet him halfway by mimicking what he did best at Ohio State when he threw 50 touchdowns. And, again, they did this in a pandemic with super limited teaching time at the actual facility. And they brought in a young QB in Kyle Allen, who had a benefactor (Bingo!) in new offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who he played for in 2019 in Carolina. Which explains why, a mere three games into his tenure under Ron Rivera's coaching staff, Haskins was already called out by his head coach and put in public notice about potentially losing his job (this, I suppose, is how you build that WINNING CULTURE that coaches always pontificate about when they come to doomed places like Washington). So now, when the Washington Football Guys invariably got smoked by the Super-Bowl contending Ravens on Sunday, because, well, they had the second overall pick in April for a reason, we can go ahead and scapegoat that QB and make that change you already warned everyone might be coming.
Shocking how that public scolding didn't necessarily bring out the best in a kid who, besides the owner (who is dealing with massive issues like his minority partners wanting out and the NFL investigating widespread claims of sexual impropriety throughout his organization), no one has seemed to bother to take an interest in since he got to town. It belies a reality in which this staff sure as hell seems to have made up its mind long ago that Allen was going to get a look-see pretty quickly (they ran out and traded for him, after all, to pay him $675,000 at a time when guys like Cam Newton and Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston would flood the free-agent market all around around $1M a year).
You think Haskins couldn't see the okeydoke coming? He has better numbers this season than Daniel Jones, who the Giants took nine spots ahead of him and who also has a new coaching staff. But no one put Jones on the clock three games into 2020. Hmm.
And The WFT staff did all of this while installing an offense that, a year ago while with the Panthers, despite getting an MVP-caliber season out of running back Christian McCaffrey (who also dominates in the passing game) and having explosive receivers like D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel available for 15 starts each, and former Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen available for 14 starts, managed to put up the following numbers:
Passer Rating: 32nd
Interceptions: Tied for 1st
Third Down Conversions: 29th
20-plus yard passes: 28th
Points Score Over Final 8 games: 29th
That is what Haskins is being kicked to the curb for: The Allen/Turner project. I'll add that the 2019 Panthers passing game accomplished all of that despite ranking 8th in average field position and 12th in percent of rushes that went for four or more yards. And now we get to see it again, only now with just as bad of an offensive line, and no reliable running game and with Dontrelle Inman in the role of Samuel and with Logan Thomas as the "go-to" tight end while Gibson learns to play a new position on the fly and learn pass protections. Good luck with that, WFT fans. Sounds miserable to me.
I mean, why would you try to install things that might work for Haskins and mix in a bit of the college stuff that is working so well with other youngsters when you've got that in your back pocket? Never mind giving him some time to develop and meeting him halfway during a season that could end up getting wrecked by COVID, anyway, during which the head coach is battling cancer and nothing is normal. Breaking news: The WFT is not going to win many games outside of the horrid NFC East this season with Allen at quarterback (and Alex Smith, returning from potentially life-altering surgeries, will be under suboptimal conditions to do much as well if/when he takes over).
Rivera and his staff had the kid for all of six weeks this summer, watched him throw 146 passes in their system, and they've seen enough. Apparently, the 489 attempts they saw out of Allen last year weren't enough. Which brings me to a little exercise. Try to name the following quarterbacks through their first 13 NFL games:
Player A) 193/283 (48.4%), 1,801 yards, 8 TD/15 INT, 59.6 rating
Player B) 208/349 (59.6%), 2,304 yards, 11 TD/10 INT, 77.8 rating
Player C) 269/476 (56.6%), 2,869 yards, 21 TD /25 INT, 68.0 rating
Answers: Player A is John Elway; Player B is Haskins; Player C is Peyton Manning.
No, I don't think Haskins is Elway or Manning. It's not a fair comparison on a multitude of levels. But the sample size is what it is, and there is no way to know what Haskins is or isn't at this stage of his career, given all that has transpired since he was donned a cap bearing a logo that no longer exists. And Allen might be okay. Who knows? He showed well for a month or so last season until it all broke down. But this isn't about him, anyway.
It's about how the league works. And who gets second and third chances, and who barely gets one no matter how high they were drafted. Circumstances matter. Perhaps Haskins' career is destined to continue to mimic Rosen's in more ways than one. One hopes that's not the case. But there were larger forces at work in both being discarded so quickly. And there are reasons why the WFT is on starting QB No. 30 since 1993.