Since 2015, there have been 13 QBs taken round 1. Of these 13, 11 of them started at least 7 games and 4 of those 11 started week one.
With the recent history showing that a QB drafted in the first round has an 84% chance of starting 7+ games, it looks like Haskins is in a good position. When you take into account that he came out a much better prospect than Paxton Lynch and was drafted higher, his odds get even better. But is it really that simple? Let’s take a look at the current dynamic of the Redskins QB room, the teams situation, and what it could mean regarding the amount of playtime Dwayne Haskins sees year 1.
To look at how this will all play out, we first have to look at the thing that started the entire situation: The 2019 NFL Draft. Shortly before the draft, rumblings of the Redskins stance on the drafts QBs began to get out of the building. Some reports said that the Redskins HC Jay Gruden and several scouts had Daniel Jones as “their guy”. There were other reports stating that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and team president Bruce Allen were in love with Dwayne Haskins and were quite possibly going to trade up to get him.
And then, with the 6th overall pick, the New York Giants select Daniel Jones, Quarterback, Duke. The team that was widely considered Haskins’ landing spot is suddenly out of the mix. The Broncos and Bengals who were both rumored interested in the QB remained but went in different directions. Washington didn’t flinch, and the reports of them wanting to move up seemed to not be true. Suddenly Washington was in the driver’s seat for Haskins and he fell to 15 where they seemingly happily snap him up. A question resulted from how the draft played out: “Do you really love a QB if you’re not willing to trade up for him when you probably have to?”
If the ramblings pre-draft are true, then that means Jay Gruden wanted Jones over Haskins. How do Gruden’s feelings over the QB big board affect Haskins now that he’s in the building and he is the QB of the future? Gruden will likely be fighting hard for his job in 2019, and anything short of a .500 season and/or a playoff berth likely means the end of Gruden’s time in Washington. With this in mind, it kind of sheds doubts on the idea that Jones is who Gruden wanted all along. Jones was the 4th best QB in this draft to a lot of analysts, and some had a 2nd-3rd round grade on him. A head coach who needs to win now probably isn’t going to want a heavy project QB to help him secure his future. Whether or not it was smoke we don’t know; but as we could assume, Gruden doesn’t seem in love with Haskins right now and his personality shows he’s not on track for that anytime soon unless Haskins blows him away come training camp.
Training camp for the Redskins is going to be a fun one. Realistically, the only way that Haskins can pull off the upset and be the week 1 starter is if he outplays Case Keenum and Colt McCoy by a rather wide margin. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t likely. Although Keenum just got to Washington and McCoy is coming off of a nasty injury, they both have enough of the experience they’ll need to be able to outcompete Haskins in training camp. The jump from NCAA to NFL for a QB is just far too massive for Haskins to far and away outcompete two NFL veterans. Even if the competition is closer than expected, the tie will go to the runner; and that runner will probably be Case Keenum.
When He Can Start:
(0-3 Start) This whole scenario toys with the likely idea that Keenum is Washington’s Week 1 starter. The Redskins first four games come against 3 division rivals and 3 playoff teams from last year. Tough matchups against Dallas, Philly, and Chicago make it look like the Redskins could start 0-3. If that is the case, then Haskins’ first start could very well come Week 4 in New York against the Giants. The storylines for that game are endless, and Haskins would certainly be the biggest one. This scenario is very likely if Haskins is close to Keenum and McCoy in training camp. By the time week 4 hits, the team is with low morale and Haskins development is far along enough that continuing to sit him when there’s no real reason to is just not a decision that’ll be made.
(2-4 Start) If the Redskins come out below average but not horrible, Haskins would likely get the call for a Week 7 home matchup against the 49ers. A home game against an equal opponent at a point where there are no immediate consequences to starting Haskins simply can’t be passed up. However, if those two wins don’t come against the Giants and Dolphins, Keenum could start all the way into the bye week.
(5-4 or 4-5 at the Bye) If Washington goes into the bye week at 5 wins, Keenum will remain the starter. There’s a legitimate shot the 5-4 version could come out and win 3 straight. After all, they were 6-3 and led the division before the injuries last year, and Keenum’s PFF grade in 2018 was a 70.0 compared to Alex Smiths 70.2. If we do see a Redskins team at 7-5 or 8-4, then we won’t see Haskins until they’re mathematically out of playoff contention, and if that doesn’t happen; then we won’t see any Dwayne Haskins until 2020. One less win coming out of the bye is an entirely different situation. If that’s how things play out, it’s almost certainly Haskins who would close out the season.
Provided Haskins keeps training camp close, he’s going to become the starter as soon as the team feels the playoffs aren’t in their future. A record win percentage below .333 before Week 7 will probably bring the start of the Haskins area in Washington. Any percentage below .500 at the bye week is also going to mean Haskins. If Washington sits above .500 during the bye, Keenum will start until Washington is mathematically out of the playoffs.
It’s very likely that Haskins doesn’t start until far later in the year. This was a team that sat at 6-3 before monstrous injuries set in like a ghost of the 2017 season. Their defense was playing at a top 10 level before the offense took so many hits that it was impossible to call them an NFL unit at times. On paper as a team, Washington has gotten slightly better; and the team has more available to Keenum from top to bottom than Denver had last year. Keenum is a capable starter and the perfect bridge QB to have. PFF gave him a grade just 0.2 off of Smith who helped Washington lead the NFC East before the injury. He finished 6-10 on a Denver team that played with less overall talent and against harder opponents than the 2019 Washington team will have. It’s plausible he does enough to keep them in contention mathematically for a majority of the season, and if that’s the scenario; then we’re not going to be seeing Dwayne Haskins suit up until Week 14 at the earliest.