After a horrific 2019 season where the team went 3-13, Washington Redskins fans got a lot of what they had hoped for. Head coach Jay Gruden was fired and then general manager Bruce Allen was also relieved of his duties.
When former Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was brought in, he decided to clean house. Rivera shed the strength and conditioning staff as well as the controversial medical staff. Players that were underperforming or disgruntled have hit the road. We know that a culture change is underway.
The Redskins’ horrible year also netted the second overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. That selection could fetch an impact player like Chase Young or a bounty from any of the teams seeking a quarterback like Tua Tagovailoa.
My preference for the second overall pick would be a trade down by the Redskins to gather more draft assets and good players. If you polled most Washington fans, they would likely want Chase Young in burgundy and gold. However, I am not sure that is the best move for the franchise.
What the Redskins should do with their first-round draft pick
Pundits like Todd McShay and Mel Kiper are saying that Tagovailoa should be the pick for the Skins at two. It is this option and the opinions that are driving it that I dislike the most.
Washington took Dwayne Haskins with the 15th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. After Kyler Murray, he was viewed as the consensus second-best QB in the draft, even though Daniel Jones went sixth-overall to the New York Giants. At the time, it was regarded as a coup for the Redskins that they were able to draft Haskins without having to trade up.
Not long after, reports started leaking that head coach Gruden wasn’t enamored with Haskins. It became clear that he wasn’t interested in developing the young quarterback. Haskins was disastrous in two relief appearances (12 of 22, 140-yards, four interceptions, 34.7 passer rating) but once Bill Callahan took over, things improved markedly.
In seven starts, the former Ohio State QB was 107 of 181 attempts for 1,225 yards, seven touchdowns, three interceptions, with an 85.5 passer rating. The final two starts Haskins hit triple digits in passer rating.
Even still, there was controversy surrounding Haskins. He wasn’t on the field for the final kneel down in his first win as a starter against the Detroit Lions. There was carping that he was seen out partying at Washington Wizards games. The most odious of the criticisms was one leveled anonymously that Haskins was so bad at reading the playbook that coaches thought he was dyslexic.
And sadly, race plays a role in this saga. While Doug Williams became the first black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl, when the Redskins thrashed the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII, black quarterbacks haven’t faired as well in D.C. since.
Jason Campbell was drafted in the first round but saw his development hindered by a revolving door of offensive coordinators and then lost his job to Todd Collins. Robert Griffin III started like a house on fire with the Skins but injuries plus clashing with Mike Shanahan doomed his career. Similar anonymous reports denigrating Griffin’s ability to play QB was part of the end of his time.
And now, history might repeat itself with Haskins. Kyle Allen, who started 12 games for Rivera in his final season in Carolina, arrived in Washington via a trade. There have been reports that Rivera might draft to Tagovailoa to compete with Haskins for the starting job.
In my own social media circles, I’ve seen the same people who defended Kirk Cousins (who was preferred by the previous coaching staff to Griffin III) at every turn saying that Haskins is a bust and the Redskins need to get another QB.
Just once, can the Skins draft a quarterback and do everything to support him and develop him? Just once, can this franchise understand that quick fixes and easy solutions aren’t the answer? Just once, can this franchise show some patience and give a quarterback a chance to make mistakes, learn from them and grow?
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What about Chase Young?
Speaking of quick fixes, that brings me to Chase Young and the Redskins first-round draft pick. The first thing you hear from people that want the Skins to draft him is that Young is a generational talent. Is he better than Khalil Mack coming out of college? Because I would vociferously dispute that notion.
Secondly, you hear about all the sacks he will get and it could transform the defense. That might be true but consider the case of Mack. He’s been unquestionably one of the best defensive players in the game. Yet, in his career, he’s been to the playoffs twice and is 0 for 2. Is that his fault? No. But it shows you that a great pass rush isn’t enough.
Consider the case of Shaq Barrett and Chandler Jones. Those two gentlemen led the NFL in sacks last season. They also have something else in common. Neither of their teams, Tampa Bay and Arizona, made the playoffs or were close.
A great edge rusher isn’t the first piece of the championship puzzle, it’s the last one. Drafting Young is a cheap pop. It’s the sort of short-term thinking and quick fix to please fans that papers over cracks.
It won’t work! Young may end up being a great edge rusher. Can he protect the quarterback, open holes for a running back, catch passes, or cover the opposing team’s number one receiver? Because all of those things are a lot more necessary for the Redskins right now than a top pass rusher.
So do the right thing Rivera. Don’t give in to making Dan Snyder or the fans happy for a brief moment. If there’s a good deal to move down in the draft, take it. And back Dwayne Haskins so he’s got half a chance to prove himself in this league.