- Covered the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and other media outlets since 1994
- Authored or co-authored three books on the Redskins and one on the Cleveland Browns
Washington Redskins coach Ron Rivera remains excited about quarterback Dwayne Haskins and continues to mention the plan they have to develop him. That won’t stop Rivera from looking around, however, as the Redskins plan to host quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow in pre-draft visits. Just in case.
Rivera told reporters at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday that hosting those two quarterbacks goes beyond doing due diligence.
“Everything is an option,” Rivera said. “We’re not closing the door on anything.”
The Redskins drafted Haskins in the first round last April, but that was a different regime. Ever since he was hired on Dec. 30, Rivera has been consistent whenever discussing Haskins: He likes his potential but is not ready to anoint him as the starter for 2020.
However, a key part of Rivera’s interviews, both with owner Dan Snyder and prospective coaches, was about having a plan to develop Haskins. Rivera pointed out that new offensive coordinator Scott Turner was with Carolina as an offensive quality control coach when the Panthers drafted Cam Newton in 2011. Turner also was with Teddy Bridgewater after he was drafted with Minnesota, and new quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese was with Cleveland when it picked Baker Mayfield.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t do their homework on quarterbacks in the draft. They could be bringing them in to create a smokescreen — and perhaps increase the value of the No. 2 overall pick. If teams don’t feel the Redskins would take a quarterback, they might be more inclined to try to trade up to No. 3.
The team also wants to interview them to get a feel for how other teams might perceive them after their own meetings. That could help them realize what they might be able to get if they traded back. Or they could end up having legitimate interest.
“We have to go through this process,” Rivera said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen in front of you. You don’t know what’s going to happen with you. We’re going to prepare and get ourselves ready.”
He also said they would meet with defensive end Chase Young and others expected to go high in the draft.
Alex Smith is the only other quarterback on the Redskins’ roster, and there is still question about whether he will return from his compound fracture of the right leg. Rivera wants more competition for Haskins — someone, he said, who can challenge him.
But even while meeting with other quarterbacks and possibly seeking another veteran as competition, Rivera remains upbeat about Haskins.
“We have a very good young player,” Rivera said. “The more I learn about him, it puts us in a pretty good spot. I’m excited about him. One thing I have seen is his commitment. He’s been around a lot. I walk by the weight room, there he is. I walk by the locker room, there he is. That’s a sign of a young man learning that he needs to be around.”
Haskins played nine games as a rookie, starting seven. He finished with a Total QBR of 26.4 — but it was 73.0 in his last two games. In those two outings — losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants — Haskins threw for a combined 394 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions.
But the game that stood out to Rivera was a 19-16 win over the Detroit Lions. Rivera wasn’t focused on the stats — 13-for-29 for 156 yards with an interception — or the fact that Haskins took a selfie in the stands with a fan while the offense was in victory formation. What he liked is that Haskins led two late field goal drives in a comeback win.
“Very calm, very calculated,” Rivera said. “He showed his poise and showed his leadership. … He has that type of potential, but he has to grow into that.”
ESPN’s David Newton contributed to this report.
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