Joe Theismann: Starting Dwayne Haskins Week 1 would be 'formula for disaster' for Washington

Shalise Manza YoungYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

Washington used its first first-round draft pick in 2019 on quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

The rookie has size and a big arm, though after a strong start in OTAs he reportedly showed some inconsistency during minicamp earlier this month.

Even though Washington finds itself in a likely fight with the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East title, franchise legend Joe Theismann says the team would be better off bringing Haskins along slowly.

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‘Formula for disaster’

Appearing on 106.7 The Fan on Saturday, Theismann said it would be a mistake to have Haskins start in Week 1.

“To put him out there early against those teams, it’s just a formula for disaster, for [coach] Jay [Gruden], for the fans and everybody else,” Theismann said. “I think the young man is our future, and let’s protect the future instead of throwing it out there right now and saying, ‘OK, go get ‘em.’ The schedule we’re playing is not a ‘go get ‘em’ schedule.”

Washington’s first five games are all against teams that went to the playoffs in 2018: at Philadelphia, home against Dallas, home against Chicago on Monday night, at the Giants and home against New England.

Gruden and Washington were division champs in 2015 but have finished third in the NFC East each of the last three years. If he’s interested in keeping his job, he may have different ideas.

Joe Theismann believes Washington's first-round pick, quarterback Dwayne Haskins, should sit his rookie season. (Getty Images)
Joe Theismann believes Washington's first-round pick, quarterback Dwayne Haskins, should sit his rookie season. (Getty Images)

‘Best scenario for Dwayne would be to sit this year’

Theismann cited Haskins’ lack of college experience — he was only the full-time starter at Ohio State for one season, last fall, though he was third in Heisman voting after completing 70 percent of his passes with 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.

Colt McCoy, who has been with Washington for the last four years, is coming off a broken leg. He is 7-20 as a starter in his career, including 1-5 with Washington. McCoy was 0-2 last year starting in place of Alex Smith, who suffered a devastating leg injury, before suffering his own injury.

Washington acquired Case Keenum from Denver earlier this year; Keenum is 26-28 in his career, starting games with four teams.

But Theismann said sitting behind either or both of those men would be better for Haskins.

“To me, the best scenario for Dwayne would be to sit this year, Case plays, Colt comes back and is healthy enough to be in competition and/or a part of the ballclub...and give Dwayne a chance to process everything,” Theismann said. “Be in the meetings, watch film, maybe get into some games in late situations to be able to sort of wet your whistle a little bit.

“That, to me, would serve him well. I don’t want to see him become a Joey Harrington. I don’t want to see him get the ever-loving daylights beat out of him, because he’s not going to be able to really run away from anybody.”

Harrington was the No. 3 pick in the 2002 draft. He played six seasons for three teams, including his first four with Detroit.

Days of sitting top picks have passed

The days of teams sitting rookie quarterbacks, particularly for their entire first season, have passed.

Over the last decade-plus, nearly every quarterback drafted in the first round has started at least one game as a rookie. Jake Locker and Brady Quinn sat for their entire first seasons, and it obviously didn’t help either one.

On the other hand, Patrick Mahomes started just one game, the regular-season finale, as a rookie in 2017 and was NFL in 2018.

There are only so many snaps during training camp, Theismann argued.

“Case Keenum has to get his time,” he said. “Case has to learn the system. He has to learn how to play in this system of Jay’s. So how much time is Dwayne going to get? You only have 17 days in training camp.”

As for Haskins, he said this month, “I don’t really worry about starting Week 1. I just want to be ready to play Week 1.”

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