Toni L. Sandys

Ron Rivera made it clear in the lead-up to the 2020 NFL season that his priority at quarterback was seeing what he had in the “young guy,” former first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins. It appears four games was enough for Rivera to evaluate the ex-Ohio State star. The Washington Football Team announced that Kyle Allen will start over Haskins against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 5, with Alex Smith as Allen’s backup

The 23-year-old Haskins is coming off arguably the best start of his season, completing more than 70 percent of his throws while passing for 314 yards against the Baltimore Ravens. But he also had zero touchdowns during the 31-17 loss, Washington’s third straight lopsided defeat, and had already elicited some public jabs from Rivera. Through four games, Haskins has completed 61 percent of his passes for 939 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions, posting a passer rating of 80.3 — the fourth-worst mark among all full-time starting QBs.

Haskins’ move to the bench — and all the way to the No. 3 QB spot behind veteran Alex Smith, per NFL Network — is an ominous sign for the future of the former first-rounder in Washington. Drafted 15th overall in 2019, the young signal-caller struggled in seven starts as a rookie, completing fewer than 60 percent of his throws and throwing as many INTs (7) as touchdowns. But now he’s essentially been cast aside with Rivera’s club at least temporarily in the NFC East race thanks to the division’s early futility — and for Allen, no less, a 24-year-old reserve who went 5-7 and threw 16 INTs during Rivera’s final season with Carolina in 2019.

Just because Washington’s move away from Haskins is notable doesn’t mean it’s wholly surprising, however. For all the talk Rivera gave about being patient with young players, including at QB, the coach was also effusive in his praise for veterans like Alex Smith — someone Rivera repeatedly and publicly championed as a candidate to regain a starting job. Now that Smith has been elevated to the No. 2 spot behind Allen, it’s conceivable Washington might not be done making changes atop its QB depth chart, especially if the club remains competitive in the East and Smith proves increasingly capable of weathering the game’s physical toll after his notable return from leg injuries. 

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