Ron Rivera should be worried about losing the locker room if he continues to start Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, former NFL executive Michael Lombardi tells 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier.
"The problem Rivera has, and this is what he's going to share with his owner," Lombardi said Wednesday, imagining the conversation Rivera will need to have with Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder. "He's going to say, 'Dan, look. I can't stand in front of these guys and tell 'em Dwayne Haskins is the best player. They're gonna lose respect for me. If he doesn't play well, they're gonna lose respect for me.'
"Now I know — and this is all me paraphrasing — I know that I promised you I was going to give Dwayne Haskins a fair chance," he continued. "I know I promised you I wouldn't bring anybody in to compete for a job with him. However, after three games, I've got to say to you that promise is running out."
Even with only 10 starts under his belt (12 games total), Haskins has already shown enough for Lombardi to say he's not the guy for the job.
"This notion of 'we've got to give him more time,' well, when you're lost, do you need more time?" he said. "You need to redirect yourself, and so time isn't gonna be of the essence. And I think when you look at the case of Dwayne Haskins, Jr., and you study the 12 games that he's played, and you go back and look at his collegiate career, you've gotta ask yourself: were you right with that evaluation?
"For me, after 12 games, I see everything I saw in college on Dwayne Haskins that I didn't like, that I was concerned about — the (anticipatory) throws, the staring down, the not having a rhythm in what he does, not being able to control the football, not being able to eliminate turnovers in his game. All those things, I saw as a collegiate player. I would have never drafted him, ever, so I wouldn't have had this decision."
Lombardi isn't necessarily a believer in Kyle Allen, either, but believes the backup would have given Washington a better chance to win against the Browns, who created four turnovers off of Haskins, leading to 24 points in the other direction.
"They could actually win the (NFC) East, as bad as the East is," said Lombardi. "I'm not saying Kyle Allen is the best player, but Kyle Allen, if he would have been on the field against Cleveland, they might have had a chance to actually win that game. They got four turnovers."
"They can't throw the ball," he said of Washington's offense. "What's Haskins at, 57.9 percent completion? His average yards-per-attempt is 6.55. And some of those yards are against... I mean watch the Philadelphia game. How they won Philly was with their defense. Now they haven't been competitive in the next two games."
Lombardi was asked how you balance giving Allen an opportunity as opposed to riding with Haskins, who could have greatness as his ceiling.
"You balance it because you're sitting there, you're watching it, right? And you haven't seen practice," he said. "If that greatness was coming, Rivera would have said it on Monday. But the problem is, what happens on the game field is happening in practice, and that's what's affecting the locker room."
What Rivera did say on Monday was in stark contrast to what he'd said a day earlier when, immediately after the game, the coach told reporters he was prepared to take his lumps with Haskins. "The way I see it," Rivera said, "he's barely through a rookie year right now."
The following morning, after watching the film, Rivera said his team played well enough to win, noting that many players who shined on tape "deserve better." He added that there's a "cut-off point" for how much slack he's willing to give.
"See, for you guys to sit in your radio studio and me to sit in my office and say 'have more time,' we don't go to practice," Lombardi said. "We don't have to stand in front of the team. We don't have to tell the team that, even though this practice he's playing really poorly, it's all gonna be okay. We can do that from our radio studio. We can do that from my office here."
"You can't do that when you're around the players. The players know," he continued. "And when you affect the players' life, in terms of them not being able to win because the quarterback's not good enough, you're gonna lose the team."
"It was going on in Chicago with Matt Nagy," he said. With the Bears trailing the Falcons by six at halftime on Sunday, Nagy — after a failed first drive to open the third quarter — benched Mitch Trubisky for Nick Foles, who led Chicago to a 30-26 victory on three touchdowns and one interception in the second half.
"Why do you think he changed quarterbacks? He was as patient as he could be," Lombardi said. "The general manager was demanding he keep playing Trubisky, even to start him this year, and finally he pulls him after the first half, after he throws an interception, and it wasn't one of his worst first halfs ever. But he was gonna lose his football team."
"That's what Rivera's problem is right now," he said. "He's worried about losing his team."