Paulsen: 'Odd decision' by Rivera to test Haskins on 4th down originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
It's becoming a weekly tradition to question how Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera handles late-game situations.
Instead of hoarding timeouts against Baltimore though, the latest head-scratcher came when Rivera had a chance to kick a field goal in the fourth quarter in order to cut the lead to a couple of scores. Instead, Rivera wanted to test his quarterback by going for it on fourth-and-13, which eventually failed, resulting in a turnover on downs.
"I wanted to see what would happen, I really did," Rivera said.
A lot of people were left trying to figure out the timing of Rivera's test, including former tight end Logan Paulsen:
"If Logan Paulsen was head coach of the Football Team, which I'm not and probably never will be," Paulsen said on 106.7 The Fan's 'Grant and Danny,' "I think that's an odd decision, I would definitely question myself. I'd be like 'if I'm trying to test to see where he's at, then why haven't I used other opportunities prior to this to test him and see where he's at'. Why not do the two-minute drill last week or the week before that? If this is really just an evaluation of Dwayne Haskins then why didn't I take advantage of other opportunities in situations that in my opinion -- and this is just my opinion -- that are more football relevant. How many fourth-and-13's do you have in your careers. I'm sure it's like a handful of times. Unless that's something that he went over with him specifically on the sideline that game or that week, I just think it was kind of an odd decision personally."
Haskins received plenty of criticism for dumping the ball off to Isaiah Wright, who didn't get close to the endzone. But it also was a situation that most quarterbacks would be challenged by.
"[I’m] a little disappointed in the situational awareness," Rivera said. "He’ll have to understand that ball has to be in a position to put it in the end zone."
From the reports before Sunday's game that Haskins could be pulled if he struggled, or earlier in the week Rivera saying there's a "cutoff point" where he'd decide to make a switch at quarterback, it hasn't really been a smooth start for Haskins under his new head coach.
This is what happens when you're not "the guy" for the new head coach. Rivera didn't draft Haskins, and has no real ties to him other than the fact that he inherited him when he was hired.
These scenarios often have a very short "evaluation period" before minds are made up.
Haskins showed improvement on Sunday but he still has a long way to go to show the consistency needed to be a starting-caliber quarterback int he NFL.
As Rivera continues to evaluate what he has in Haskins, there will likely be more instances of the head coach testing the second-year quarterback.
Quarterbacks certainly can improve, especially given the limited amount of time Haskins has been on the field (just look at Josh Allen this year), but there are quite a few areas Haskins has to get better at before he can even have a story that's close to comparing to Allen.
If he continues to lose the confidence of his head coach, it's more than likely he's replaced, and maybe never given another real shot under this coaching staff again.
That's how important each game is in 2020.