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The 5 O’Clock Club: Put me in coach!

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Washington Redskins v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club is published several times per week during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Looking ahead for the Redskins

The trade deadline is looming — it comes up after the completion of Week 8, on the 29th of October. The Redskins are not traditionally very active at the trade deadline, though they ‘bought’ a player last year, sending a 4th round pick to Green Bay for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a move that didn’t work out for Washington. If the Redskins do anything this week in the trade market, it should be to trade players away for draft picks.

2019 is a lost season; it’s now all about 2020 and beyond. Roster, coaches, front office, ticket sales all have to be considered.

Almost regardless of whether he’s ready or not, at some point following the Vikings game Dwayne Haskins has to be named the starter for the Washington Redskins. Bill Callahan has made it clear that that’s something that might not happen until next season, and I think there’s one decent argument for that: the Redskins will have a whole new offense in 2020, Dwayne has not found it easy to learn Gruden’s offense, and there’s simply no reason to force him to finish learning something that will be irrelevant before New Year’s Eve.

That said, with the Redskins offense producing an average of less than 150 passing yards per game and just 6.75 points per game over the past 4 weeks, it’s increasingly difficult to think of any reasons why the coaches shouldn’t just give Dwayne a playbook he’s comfortable with, even if it’s somewhat limited, and send him out to face some NFL defenses. From the team’s standpoint, the results can’t be much worse, and from Dwayne’s standpoint, it should provide some valuable learning experience.

I have supported the idea of keeping Haskins (mostly) on the bench so far this season. The team started the year with the same hopes as 31 other teams, and it has always been made clear that Dwayne would need some time to develop.

I wasn’t in favor of starting him against the 49ers, with Frisco sporting the number 2 scoring defense in the league and a fearsome pass rush. Once I’d seen the field conditions in Sunday’s mud bowl, I didn’t want to send him on the field to “add a spark” in some of the worst playing conditions imaginable.

Certainly, there’s no strong argument for giving him his first start on the road in Minnesota, on a short week, playing in prime time on Thursday Night Football.

But after this game, I think a window throws itself wide open. When everyone wakes up on Friday morning, I think we should be thinking that the Dwayne Haskins era in DC is coming soon.

Following the Vikings game, the Skins are on the road in Buffalo after 10 days’ rest, then they get a bye week.

In other words, after the team gets through Thursday’s game against the Vikings, Washington will play only one game in a stretch of 23 days. When that stretch finishes, the Week 11 game is at home against the New York Jets and their 2nd year quarterback, Sam Darnold.

Some people are looking at the Buffalo game as the natural place to give Haskins his first NFL start. I disagree.

Throughout the off-season, predictions about Dwayne Haskins tended to circle two games on the calendar — the Giants in Week 6 and the Jets in Week 11 — as providing the two most natural spots for the rookie quarterback to get his first NFL start.

Washington Redskins v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

I’m prepared to plant my flag in the ground here, saying that the Jets game will be Haskins’ first career start, and that — barring injury — he will be the Redskins starting quarterback for the balance of the 2019 season.

Buffalo? Yeah, that’s possible. But by waiting one more game, Haskins actually gets the benefit of a bye week to study. Of course, he and the coaches are supposed to have that week off, but I imagine that the team can find a way to have QB coach Tim Rattay devote the week to stuffing Dwayne’s head with a game plan for the Jets. Obviously, the bye week doesn’t give the team an extra week of practice — all the players are “on their own” for the week, not showing up for practice — but it should give Haskins seven valuable days to devote himself to preparing for his first NFL start.

Another benefit is that, while the Buffalo game is on the road, the game against the Jets is at FedEx Field. We all know that the stadium hasn’t provided much of a home-field advantage, but Buffalo is an unfriendly place to play. Haskins doesn’t have to see his first starting action in front of the Bills Mafia, and he probably shouldn’t.

Instead, Haskins can get his first start in front of his home crowd. And, while FedEx Field hasn’t provided any kind of home field advantage for a while now, if the Redskins announce after the Bills game that Dwayne Haskins will make his first start in the next game against the Jets, that will give Redskins fans two weeks to not sell their tickets to opposing fans, and to make arrangements to attend the game to see the rookie play. It’s also the home game that’s least likely to be invaded by opposing fans; Jets fans have been beaten down by decades of incompetence much like Redskins fans have. Dwayne might actually play in front of a FedEx crowd that is cheering for him instead of against him.

Finally, the quality of the opponent comes into consideration — especially as regards the defense that the rookie will face.

The Redskins’ schedule has been packed with highly ranked defenses in 2019:

  • No. 1 San Francisco
  • No. 2 New England
  • No. 5 Dallas
  • No. 6 Minnesota
  • No. 10 Chicago

Buffalo belongs in that group, being ranked 3rd in the NFL in yards and points given up per game.

The New York Jets are ranked 20th overall, and 24th in pass defense.

In short, by waiting one game longer to give Dwayne Haskins his first start against the Jets instead of the Bills, he gets more time to prepare, makes his first start at home, should have more crowd support, and has the advantage of avoiding a top-3 defense; instead, facing a defense that is in the bottom half of the league.

Given the way the Jets played against the Patriots on Monday night this week, this may also be the best chance for the team to pick up another win this season, which would be a nice bonus for Haskins’ first start.

The team should give Dwayne Haskins a chance to play, but also give him the best chance for success when he does. Clearly, a road start in Minnesota is not ideal. I think the extra time and the chance to open his starting career on his home field make the Jets game a better opportunity than the Bills game.




When should Dwayne Haskins get his first start as a Redskin?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    in Buffalo next week
    (80 votes)
  • 42%
    at home against the Jets
    (142 votes)
  • 2%
    Sometime in Weeks 12-17
    (9 votes)
  • 6%
    Whenever the coaches think he’s ready
    (22 votes)
  • 12%
    2019 should be a "redshirt" year. He should start the opening week of the 2020 season with the new coach and new system in place.
    (42 votes)
  • 10%
    Haskins is a bust. He should get the Josh Rosen treatment. The ‘Skins should trade him this off-season, draft a new QB, and Haskins should never get his first start as a Redskin.
    (34 votes)
  • 2%
    I have a different idea
    (7 votes)
336 votes total Vote Now