- Once a summer, we engage in the age-old game of “What if?” with all of our SB Nation brethren. Instead of picking just one scenario and chasing it deep into the rabbit hole, I thought I would lend the Sixpack format to the concept this year. Let me just save you from the #1 “What if?” that every Redskins fan suggests every time we play this game: “What if Dan Snyder never bought the team?” First of all, we have to give ourselves a break from that —every time I allow myself to go down that road, it’s like I’m in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie “Inception.” If you stay too long, you could get trapped in that dream forever. As glorious as it is when I imagine such a world, envisioning all the Super Bowl trophies and respect we would have earned only makes the gut-punch of reality that much worse. So I figured we would stick to a different brand of “what if” game-playing. Here goes:
- “What if the Redskins are just hell-bent on making Dwayne Haskins the starter in week one?” This is a fear for many Redskins fans, because it fits a very weary narrative in the Dan Snyder era of the team forcing things based on marketing and promotion. First and foremost, the decision on when to play Haskins needs to be a football decision and not a marketing decision. To the Redskins credit, we are not (yet) being bombarded with any ridiculous Haskins marketing campaigns that would indicate the PR guys are in charge of the roster. Beyond this being a football decision though, I would take it a step further. You might ordinarily say, “Play the best guy.” You would ordinarily be right. I would deviate from that with Haskins though, wanting to also answer the question of, “Can we win with him right now?” Haskins could very well be the “best” quarterback on our roster when it comes to athleticism, arm strength and upside, but being the best quarterback on a roster that currently features a one-legged guy, a second guy healing from multiple surgeries on a broken leg and a journeyman veteran on a one-year deal doesn’t necessarily make you Joe Montana. The decision on Haskins has to take into account whether he can play at a high enough level for the team to expect to win, not just to get him some early reps in his career. I stand ready to listen to whatever argument/explanation emerges whenever we get the news on who is starting, but at this point, we aren’t being force-fed a pre-meditated answer in fancy packaging.
- “What if the Redskins are on the playoff bubble in November behind consistent yet uninspiring quarterback play?” This would be my Lamar Jackson scenario. Assuming Haskins is putting in the hours on film study and footwork, and he is displaying a firm understanding of say, 80-85% of the offense or better, would you consider making a change at that point? My answer to this is a resounding “YES.” My biggest fear for Haskins is that the Redskins stumble out of the gate and insert him into the lineup to “create a spark.” To me, that spark would do little more than reignite the dumpster fire that only sometimes gets put out at FedEx. It wouldn’t be fair to Haskins, in my opinion. If he plays poorly, as you might expect a rookie to do, will that hurt his growth? Would we really be expecting a rookie to come in and change the fortunes of the franchise overnight? Hey, I was front and center for that RG3 rookie ride. It was fun, but there was very little sustainable about it. A way better situation to me would be if the team was playing decently enough to support trotting out Haskins to see if he could be what gets us over the playoff hump. I feel like the team would be shouldering a much heavier share of the burden in this situation.
- “What if Trent Williams refuses to report?” This question simply must be asked. We don’t yet know if this is what is going to happen and we don’t yet know what path exists to resolution between the Redskins and Trent. No need for me or any of you to regurgitate the same points we have been making on this topic, so if anyone has anything new or inspiring, let me know. Oh yeah, this impacts the first two “What if’s” in a pretty major way.
- “What if Rob Ryan is the right guy for his job?” I honestly don’t know about this one, but I do know this: with Reuben Foster out, the inside linebackers on this team are going to have to play above their pay grade. That requires coaching...good coaching. The Redskins are going to need their young ILB’s to step up, and in their quest to do so, they will have a guy leading their position group meetings who has been a defensive coordinator for SEVEN different teams. He was the linebackers coach for two different New England Patriots championship teams. Honestly, that might do it for me. For a while though, it is going to be pretty weird seeing him on the burgundy and gold sideline.
- “What if the Redskins go 9-7 this season?” This question deserves to be answered because it would settle at least a handful of...unsettled things. For example, I think 9-7 or better keeps Jay Gruden FIRMLY in the fold as head coach. It would also likely take some heat off of Bruce Allen (not from me or from many of you...but wins always help the general manager). You can pretty much count on Snyder/Allen weaponizing a 9-7 record against preseason naysayers. This record would be seen as overachieving by pretty much every objective mind covering the league, so they would be sort of within their rights. I think one of the best consequences of a winning record for such a young team would be that the Redskins might be able to parlay that into a big-time free agent acquisition. These days, it takes more than money to attract the top talent in the league—the players you actually want have a strong desire to win. Being able to show what this youthful group is capable of could be just what we need to convince a “missing piece” kind of player to come here (think wide receiver or even offensive lineman).
Looks Like Someone Has A Sixpack of the Mondays
It’s “What if...??” day for the Sixpack.