Washington names Dwayne Haskins the starter over Alex Smith for Week 1

Chris Cwik
·3 min read

Put the Alex Smith movie on hold for now. Despite his unbelievable comeback from a devastating leg injury, Smith will play the role of backup during Week 1.

Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera announced Wednesday that second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins will open the season as Washington’s starter under center. Haskins, 23, was the team’s first round draft pick last season.

Haskins didn’t begin last season as the team’s starter, but took over for Case Keenum in Week 9. In his seven starts, Haskins completed 59 percent of his passes for 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Haskins spent the offseason getting himself in tremendous shape. That doesn’t prove Haskins will be better in 2020, but it shows he’s committed to improving himself for Year 2.

Washington will take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1.

Washington quarterback Alex Smith passes the ball during practice at the team's NFL football training facility.
Washington quarterback Alex Smith worked his way back from a devastating leg injury. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Alex Smith could still start games in 2020

The Smith movie might be on hold thanks to the Haskins news, but it’s not canceled. There’s still a chance Smith, 36, gets a few starts in 2020. If Haskins gets hurt or struggles, Smith could be the next man up. Rivera hasn’t announced whether Smith or Kyle Allen — who the team acquired in the offseason — will be Haskins’ primary backup to begin the year.

Still, the fact that Smith managed to work his way back into playing shape is one heck of an accomplishment considering the gruesome nature of his injury in 2018. Smith needed 17 surgeries on his leg and nearly died due to complications from the injury — which included an infection.

There were questions over whether Smith would ever return to playing shape, so it came as a pleasant surprise when Smith was cleared for football activity in July. Washington placed Smith on the physically unable to perform list shortly after he was cleared. Smith came off the PUP list Aug. 16.

What’s the best case scenario for Washington?

After four seasons without a playoff appearance, Washington fans just want their team to win games. Haskins developing into an above-average starter would go a long way toward to the team accomplishing that goal.

While that would come at the expense of Smith sitting on the bench all season, there’s always the possibility Smith could get a start late in the season if Washington has already locked up a playoff spot. Maybe that seems like a long shot considering the team won just 3 games in 2019, but it would be the scenario that would make most Washington fans happy.

It would also give Smith a storybook ending to the inevitable movie that will be made about his comeback.

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