Rivera tested Haskins on this fourth down, and Haskins failed originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Ron Rivera had a chance to call for a fourth quarter field goal in Washington's Week 4 game against the Ravens in order to bring his team within a pair of scores, but instead, he wanted to test his quarterback.
Unfortunately, his quarterback ended up failing the test.
After leading his offense from their own 10-yard line all the way down to Baltimore's 10 on Sunday at FedEx Field, Haskins' unit ran into serious trouble. Chase Roullier was whistled for a false start, and then, Haskins was dropped for a crushing 18-yard loss. Two short throws to JD McKissic followed, setting Washington up with a fourth-and-goal from the 13.
At that point, the Burgundy and Gold were trailing, 28-10. Had Rivera sent Dustin Hopkins out for what would've been a fairly standard kick, the home side could've turned it into a two-possession deficit.
But as he explained later in his press conference, that wasn't his top priority.
"I wanted to see what would happen, I really did," Rivera said.
Well, what happened is that Haskins couldn't locate a receiver behind the goal line, so he opted to connect with Isaiah Wright, who wasn't even close to it. Wright couldn't evade the multiple defenders who converged on him, and Washington meekly turned it over on downs.
That was not the choice Rivera wanted his young signal caller to make.
"[I’m] a little disappointed in the situational awareness," the coach said. "He’ll have to understand that ball has to be in a position to put it in the end zone."
"They were all there waiting for it," Haskins said of the Ravens' coverage when asked about the sequence. "I was just trying to give Isaiah the opportunity to make somebody miss and get in."
Heading into the matchup with the Super Bowl contender, there were some murmurs about Haskins potentially being benched if he had another subpar afternoon like he did in Cleveland. To Haskins' credit, he did overall rebound, posting his first-ever 300-yard performance in the NFL. He also didn't toss any interceptions or lose any fumbles.
His poor choice on the fourth down, though, plus some sketchy clock management at the end of the first half, displayed how much more maturing he has left to do.
He needed to at least provide one of his pass catchers with a jump ball in that former situation. By not doing so, he was like a golfer who left a putt short; the ball never even got to the hole, which meant it had no chance of going in.
Now, Rivera didn't totally hammer Haskins when discussing the play with reporters on Zoom, but he was certainly frustrated by it.
"There are still some things that, again, we’re still working through and we’re still developing and learning," Rivera said. "There are some things that, obviously, I know he’s going to wish he had back once we get a chance to really break the tape down and look at it."
"He will learn from this tape, I promise you that," he later added.
How much more learning will Rivera allow him to do? That's the key question moving forward.
Including Sunday, Haskins' last few tests haven't gone the way he or Rivera would've liked them to. What remains to be seen how many more Rivera's willing to hand out to him before he opts to present them to a different quarterback on his roster. Haskins better start getting better grades, and soon.