Dwayne Haskins looks on during pregame warmups

Dwayne Haskins’ Last Opportunity

  • NFL
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • The Washington Football Team
By Mitchell Wolfe December 20, 2020 0 Comment
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Dwayne Haskins will start for the Washington Football Team this Sunday. In his first start since Week four, what can Haskins hope to accomplish this weekend against the Seattle Seahawks?

Back in the Saddle Again

On Friday afternoon, the Washington Football Team ruled Alex Smith out of Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. Nursing a calf injury, Smith returns to the bench, replaced by Washington’s first-round pick from the 2019 draft, Dwayne Haskins. Haskins began the season as Washington’s starter but struggled during the team’s 1-3 start. Eventually, he was benched after their Week four loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The Football Team’s head coach, Ron Rivera, said he wanted to see more growth from Haskins. Since then, rumors about Haskins’ work ethic and maturity swirled, along with whispers of a trade. However, that never materialized and Rivera demoted Haskins to the third string.

Kyle Allen took over as the starter, as Alex Smith continued to heal from his catastrophic leg injury. But in their Week five tilt against the Los Angeles Rams, Kyle Allen sustained a concussion and Smith made his triumphant return to the field. Washington called on Smith again when Allen dislocated his ankle in Week nine against the New York Giants. Since then, Smith has remained the starter. Furthermore, in his five starts, Smith and the Football Team won four consecutive games, even defeating the previously undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers on the road.

Now, Haskins is back as QB1 for the 6-7 Washington Football Team. Despite their losing record, Washington still holds the lead in the NFC East. According to FiveThirtyEight, they have a 73% chance of making the playoffs. But, for the Football Team to make the playoffs, they basically must win their division. Haskins faces a daunting task: three football games to earn Washington their first playoff appearance and division title since 2015.

What Can Dwayne Haskins Accomplish in the Next Three Weeks?

Washington and Haskins face the 9-4 Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. This may be his final opportunity to make a name for himself in the NFL. The current coaching and management staff did not draft him, and even the previous staff allegedly did not want him. Daniel Snyder reportedly forced Jay Gruden to draft Haskins in 2019. Haskins is from nearby Hyattsville Maryland and even went to high school with Snyder’s son. Therefore, even though Synder possesses the most power in the building, he seems to be letting Rivera and team president Jason Wright do their job.

Thus, Sunday’s tilt against the Seahawks could be Dwayne Haskins’ final opportunity to prove his worth, either for Washington or other teams. If Haskins plays well, maybe he could change Rivera’s mind and show that he is a valuable asset for the team’s plans. Alternatively, even if he plays well, Rivera and Wright could still move on from Haskins in the offseason. Despite his struggles, Haskins’ shelf life as a former first-round pick is quite long. Similar to the NBA, NFL teams like giving former first-rounders (especially quarterbacks) multiple opportunities. Teams with aging veterans (Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts) or generally uncertain QB rooms (Chicago Bears) would be interested in Haskins. He still has three years (including his fifth-year option) on his rookie deal, which would be a cheap option for many teams.

Can Dwayne Haskins Save His Job and Career this Weekend?

In terms of predicting Sunday’s outcome, Haskins is not being set up for success. While the game is at home versus a west coast team traveling east, Washington’s offense is already hampered. Star rookie running back Antonio Gibson is doubtful, still nursing a turf toe injury suffered against Pittsburgh. Backup running back Peyton Barber was limited in practice this week as well. This leaves the Football Team with scatback J.D. McKissic and veteran Lamar Miller, fresh off the street. While Terry McLaurin is an emerging star and Logan Thomas has emerged in recent weeks, Washington does not have many other weapons.

This season, McLaurin and Thomas scored eight of Washington’s twelve receiving touchdowns. Additionally, Cam Sims is the only other receiver with more than 200 yards receiving and Isaiah Wright is second among the teams’ wide receivers in targets with 32. Furthermore, the Washington Football Team is tied for the 4th most sacks allowed this season with 40 and is 7th in sack percentage (7.9%). Even though the Seattle Seahawks defense is no longer the Legion of Boom, they have not allowed more than 23 points since Week nine. This is not to mention Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ dangerous passing offense. While Washington’s defense is quite good, it is quite difficult to believe that Dwayne Haskins could outduel Russell Wilson.

At the end of the day, Haskins must overcome many obstacles to save his job in Washington and his career. He will need to rise above a depleted supporting cast to defeat one of the better teams in the NFL. Ultimately, it may be too late for Haskins in Washington. But, if he can make a few plays on Sunday and over the next few weeks, maybe even get Washington into the playoffs, perhaps he can convince another team that he deserves another shot.

 

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I cover and write about the NFL, the NFL Draft, and the Pittsburgh Steelers for the Brawl Network. I am originally from Hershey, PA and was raised a Pittsburgh sports fan. I went to Boston College for undergrad and am currently finishing a Master's degree in Sports Business at Temple University, concentrating in Sport Analytics.

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