Ron Rivera: 'Gut Feeling' Reason for Inconsistent Messages on WFT QB Change

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorOctober 22, 2020

Washington Football Team quarterback Kyle Allen (8) runs off the field during an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera cited a "gut feeling" for why there has appeared to be inconsistent messaging about his club's quarterback position this season.

"It does look a little inconsistent, but the consistency is that I'm going to make them based on what I know—on my gut feeling on things," Rivera said, per ESPN's John Keim.

"Hopefully, they're good decisions. If they're not, we'll know, and I'll take responsibility, that's for doggone sure."

Washington started the season with Dwayne Haskins Jr., who was drafted 15th overall in 2019 out of Ohio State. Haskins completed 61.0 percent of his passes for 6.4 yards per attempt, four touchdowns and three interceptions over the team's first four games.

Before Week 5, Rivera announced a shift in the quarterback depth chart, starting Kyle Allen and inserting Alex Smith as the backup against the Los Angeles Rams. Haskins was demoted to third string, and that's where he stayed for the team's Week 6 contest against the New York Giants.

Keim discussed the thoughts behind Rivera's reportedly inconsistent messaging.

"In the past couple of weeks, Rivera was criticized for changing his messagefrom supporting quarterback Dwayne Haskins after his three-interception game in Week 3, vowing to endure his growing pains, to benching him a week later.

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"In truth, multiple sources say there had been concerns before the benching and some in the organization predicted it would happen soonif Haskins didn't improve in certain areas, from on-field production to off-field preparation during the week. Those concerns, sources say, had been communicated previously. As Rivera later told NBC Sports Washington, it was an 11-week evaluation, not a four-game one. But to the fan base and some media, based on his comments, the move seemed rash."

The rebuilding WFT is in its first year under Rivera, who arrived in the nation's capital after eight-plus years as the Carolina Panthers head coach. The building blocks are there on defense, led by a horde of first-rounders in edge-rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat and defensive linemen Da'Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen.

The offense is a work in progress, however, and based on Haskins' early-season benching, chances are Washington will likely find itself looking for a new quarterback this offseason.

Allen, who started nine games for Rivera in Carolina last season, is a capable backup but has struggled in Washington's last two games as a starter. The 24-year-old completed 72.7 percent of his passes for two touchdowns and an interception, but he committed a costly fumble on a strip sack against the Giants that ultimately led to a Tae Crowder scoop-and-score touchdown. Allen has also thrown for just 6.4 yards per attempt.

The 36-year-old Smith is not the long-term answer either. It's incredible that he's even in the league after suffering a devastating leg injury in November 2018 against the Houston Texans, which is a credit to his perseverance.

Haskins has shone brightly in spots but struggled in others. A three-interception day against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 ultimately proved quite costly as all three picks resulted in touchdowns in a 34-20 loss.

On the flip side, he arguably had his best game in his most recent outing against Washington's toughest opponent to date in the 5-1 Baltimore Ravens during Week 4, completing 71.1 percent of his passes for 314 yards without committing a turnover.

Regardless of whom Rivera decides to go with on a week-to-week basis, Washington is still in the hunt for the NFC East despite being just 1-5, with the 2-4 Dallas Cowboys currently lead the division. The two play each other Sunday in Washington.