Rivera: Dwayne Haskins Not A Lock To Start Week 1

Ron Rivera likes what he has seen from Dwayne Haskins, but he is going to start whichever quarterback gives Washington the "best chance to win"

Tiki and Tierney
August 20, 2020 - 5:31 pm
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It’s been a turbulent offseason for Washington’s NFL franchise, which changed its team name, was accused of sexual harassment, and hired an independent firm to investigate its culture.

That’s a lot of headlines, none of which pertain to football. 

Well, Ron Rivera would like to change that. Rivera is helping Washington change its culture, no doubt, but he’s also responsible for winning games – something the franchise hasn’t done a lot of in recent years.

After finishing 3-13 last season, what is the team’s mindset heading into 2020?

“This now is about football,” Rivera told Tiki & Tierney. “You tell the guys, ‘Control what you can.’ A lot of things that have been put in front of me, a lot of things that are going to be put in front of [team president] Jason [Wright], are things that we can’t control, we didn’t control. But we can most certainly control what is happening now and what’s going to happen in the future. That’s the things that we’re going to try and impact. A lot of these things came up before we got here, so we have to stay focused on the football aspect. We have to stay focused on the development and growth and building of this football team more so than what’s happened in the past. Part of my mantra has been, ‘Don’t judge us on where we’ve been; judge us on where we’re going, what we’re doing.’”

Rivera must improve an offense that finished last in the league in scoring offense (16.6 points per game) last season. That starts with quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was selected 15th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.

How does Haskins look entering his second season?

“I can tell you this much: we’ve got a nice competition so far,” Rivera said. “Dwayne is taking a lot of reps with the first group. We have a backup in Kyle Allen who knows what we’re doing, who’s been part of this system. He’s not taking as many reps as Dwayne because we’re trying to see where Dwayne is.”

Allen, of course, played for Rivera’s Panthers last season. Alex Smith, meanwhile, is returning from a horrific leg injury he suffered in November 2018.

“Am I happy with what I’ve seen from Dwayne? Yeah, I am,” Rivera said. “He’s done exactly what we’ve asked, he had a good offseason and he came back in great shape, transformed his body, worked on his presence and is doing the things that we need right now. He’s got to continue to show us that he’s got some growth coming our way and that he’s doing the things that we need.”

To be clear, though, could someone other than Haskins start Week 1 against the Eagles?

“Yeah, because we have to go forward with who gives us the best chance to win a football game,” Rivera said. “I’m not waiting for the right quote-unquote moment, the right person. We have to make those moments right, and waiting for somebody to catch up, that’s not going to help the other guys. We have to make sure that we’re growing and we’re growing every day and we’re taking positive steps going forward.”

Whoever starts at quarterback, he certainly won’t have to do everything. Washington has a deep stable of running backs, not to mention an elite defensive line – Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Montez Sweat, and Chase Young were all first-round picks – which should keep Washington in games.

Indeed, under Rivera, Washington’s identity will be in the trenches.

“If you run the football for 100 yards a game, you give yourself a chance to win 72 percent of the time. If you shut your opponent down from rushing for 100 yards, you give yourself about a 73 percent chance to win,” Rivera said. “If you’re going to win seven out of 10 because you’re going to be a downhill, physical football team on both sides, you got a chance to win football games. That’s where we’re going to hang our hat. We want to be a physical, tone-setting football team, whether it’s with the defensive front or with the offensive front. This is getting back to the style of football that wins games.”