Redskins have no choice but to start Keenum

Brian Tinsman
August 23, 2019 - 10:22 am

In the days before the dress rehearsal preseason game on Thursday, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden decided to be cute with the media about his quarterback situation.

"There's no rush to name a starter right now," Gruden said glibly. "I think it's important to let these guys go out and play and continue to compete. We'll continue to let them play and see what happens Thursday."

What happened on Thursday is that "QB1" Colt McCoy sat out again with injury and QB2 Case Keenum played the entire first half with the starters. By the time QB3 Dwayne Haskins entered in the second half, most of the starters had hit the showers.

That means that Haskins has played zero preseason reps with the Week 1 starters, and that is certainly for the best. He should not be in the starting lineup in Week 1.

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Don’t get me wrong: I see the same plays from Keenum that you do. He holds onto the ball too long and lacks the raw talent necessary to make something good out of nothing. He is what he is, and that’s just alright. 

But he buys the Redskins time, and that’s why they traded for him. He’s gritty and serviceable. He can manage the game and take lumps that won’t change the fortunes of the franchise. 

What the team couldn't know in March is how offensive this line might be.

All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams is gone, probably forever, after a badly bungled standoff with the front office and medical staff. His replacement could be Donald Penn or Geron Christian, but the talent at that position takes a step back.

Ereck Flowers had a rough night at left guard in Atlanta, badly whiffing on a block that ended with Keenum getting crushed, missing an open Vernon Davis for a touchdown. Later, Penn had an egregious holding penalty that cost Derrius Guice a touchdown. He is still the team’s best option at left guard.

The Redskins cannot mortgage the future of their franchise behind an O-line like that. They have to wait until this line proves to be better than the sum of its parts, which could be in Week 6 or 2020.

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Even with his inconsistent footwork and decision-making, Haskins is arguably on par with Keenum already. He can throw the ball with zip or touch and can create something out of nothing.

Give him time to fully absorb the system, focus on mechanics, study in a quarterback room with 29 years of combined NFL experience, and get ready for the limelight. The next time he starts a football game will be just his 15th start since high school.

The training wheels can’t stay on Haskins forever, but the Redskins would be wise to let Keenum ride out most of the team’s early-season crashes.

Brian Tinsman has covered D.C. sports since 2011, both from the team marketing and skeptical fan perspectives. Tweet your criticisms @Brian_Tinsman.