Rivera will give Smith, other QBs a full and fair evaluation originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Right now, Ron Rivera is concerned with finding out which quarterback on the roster provides Washington with the best chance to win in 2020. Still in the NFC East race, the main focus is on the present.
But Rivera is also tasked with finding an answer to that question long-term. Already on its third starter of the season -- due to poor play and injuries -- Washington is in search of consistency. Whether or not one of the three passers on the roster is the solution will depend on how Rivera grades what they have done and what they will do.
At least for Week 10, the man under the microscope is Alex Smith. Coming back from a severe injury in 2018, Rivera first wanted to see that Smith had what it took to get back to the field and protect himself. Now, he's looking to see if Smith can once again be "the guy" under center. He will still be under contract in 2021.
Much like he did with both Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen, Rivera will give Smith the full opportunity to show what he has.
“Yup, you do. You got to fully evaluate him," Rivera told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.
A timetable for what a full evaluation for Smith is will not be set in stone. Haskins got 11 weeks as the starter under Rivera dating to training camp and, prior to Allen's injury, a switch did not seem imminent. That could point toward Smith getting a chance to finish the stretch run for Washington.
With Week 10 serving as Smith's first opportunity since 2018 to take reps and prepare as the starter, Rivera is looking to see continued growth as the quarterback gets back into the routine.
“You see him back out on the field making plays, you know it’s just a matter of time he gets the rest of the rust off," Rivera said. "That’s kind of what we’ll see this week, he’ll get a full week to prepare and we’ll see how he handles it.”
Yet just like how he was still considering Smith's capabilities while the other two were No. 1 on the depth chart, Rivera won't solely focus on him when it comes to looking at the future.
He'll also factor in what Allen did for the offense prior to dislocating his ankle in Week 9 and continue to keep an eye on Haskins, who will now serve as the backup behind Smith.
“You got to take into account the way Kyle has played, we’ll look at the things we got from Dwayne and the things that we’re going to get from Dwayne in terms of how he handles the next couple of months," Rivera said.
Specifically, with Haskins, Rivera reiterated the point that the early-season benching was not the end-all-be-all for the second-year passer.
Though he felt a need to make a change in the moment to spark Washington in 2020, it doesn't mean that 2021 and beyond can't be different. Given Haskins' skill set and youth, Rivera believes there's still a chance for the quarterback to come into his own.
“I’ve said this before, the young man's got an NFL arm. He’s a pocket-style passer who can make all the throws," Rivera said. "And again, he’s so young. What says that 21 or 22 years old should be lighting the world up?”
The next few weeks will be crucial for Haskins as he could get the call at any time, and Rivera will be watching. He'll be doing the same with Smith -- thinking about the present and the future. The starter will be in the spotlight, but all will be evaluated. Like always with the quarterback spot in Washington, everything is on the table.