Redskins: Why the 2016 Rams are a cautionary tale about their quarterback battle

A lot has been made of Dwayne Haskins starting right away for the Redskins. But could the 2016 Rams serve as a cautionary tale for the ‘Skins if they throw Haskins into the fire too early?

Since the 2019 NFL Draft, much as been made of Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins. And rightfully so. The 15th overall pick is likely the quarterback of the future for the team and will have a chance to eventually emerge as a franchise quarterback.

However, there is one major question facing the Redskins ahead of the 2019 season. Should they start Haskins right away, let him develop and then start him midway through the season, or let him take his rookie year as somewhat of a redshirt year?

As Paul Troth, a quarterback coach who has worked with players including Haskins, Deshaun Watson, and Carson Wentz, recently said, it may be best for them to hold off on starting him. And the main reason for that? Just look at the 2016 St. Louis Rams.

“(The Rams) had a coach on the hot seat,” Troth said per NBC Sports Washington’s Peter Hailey. “Goff came in late in the season and it was a disaster.”

And this certainly was true. Goff came in midway through his rookie season after being the No. 1 pick and the results were poor. He logged a woeful 0-7 record while completing just 54.6 percent of his passes with 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He worked within Jeff Fisher‘s offense, but Fisher didn’t last past the season. And after what was essentially a lost rookie season, Goff had to be rebuilt under Sean McVay. That ended up working for Goff, but there was no guarantee that would happen after looking like a massive bust.

The Redskins could find themselves in a similar situation this year with Jay Gruden and Haskins. If the team doesn’t make strides moving forward, Gruden could find himself on the way out as he is on the hot seat. In that case, it may not make sense to throw Haskins to the wolves if the system he’s playing in won’t be in effect in the next season. The team can spend time developing him on the side and wait until he’s truly ready to hit the field.

Additionally, as Troth pointed out, the Redskins should have one goal. And it’s one that a rookie quarterback may not be ready to help with out of the gate.

“You’ve got to win games,” Troth said per Hailey. “So, how can you win games and develop your young quarterback at the same time? Early on, I think Case Keenum is going to give them the best chance to do that.”

This could be true. If Haskins isn’t ready, the team shouldn’t put him on the field, as it will compound their problems.

Keenum, who actually started ahead of Goff for the Rams in 2016, certainly could hold the fort at quarterback. That would give them a chance to win some games while Haskins develops. It would probably be good to get Haskins action at some point as a rookie, but it shouldn’t be until he’s ready. And it certainly shouldn’t be as a desperation move to help save Gruden’s job if times get tough.

At this point in the offseason, there are no absolutes. But given the potential parallels between the 2016 Rams and the 2019 Redskins, the team at least has to consider the option of sitting Haskins. Everything depends on whether or not he is ready to start and whether or not a guy like Keenum (or dark horse Colt McCoy) looks better than him during training camp and the preseason.

The quarterback battle will be the top training camp battle to watch. It will be interesting to see if Haskins is up to the task of staving off competition from the two veterans.