HOFFMAN: Callahan's reason for playing Haskins makes no sense

Craig Hoffman
December 08, 2019 - 6:31 pm
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The story coming out of the Redskins loss to the Green Bay Packers has nothing to do with the results. The Redskins were officially eliminated from the playoffs Sunday, but that was a mere formality. A confirmation of something we all knew happened long ago.

Sunday’s main story also has nothing to do with any single player's performance or how a young, scrappy Washington team collectively battled till the very end. Instead, the story is that Dwayne Haskins was allowed to keep playing after he sustained an ankle injury in the 2nd quarter that hampered him so badly he could barely complete handoffs.

The organization that went through the Robert Griffin III injury fiasco of 2012 survived the loss at Lambeau Field without Haskins suffering a long-term, career-altering injury. However, they put themselves under a microscope by playing the rookie when he clearly couldn’t move freely and at times barely at all.

Haskins was an immobile target for Packers defenders. He took a few shots. He kept playing. That wasn’t the point to most, but that was what his coach was proud of: “We noticed he was gimping around, but he battled fine,” interim head coach Bill Callahan said after the game.

When asked again about taking Haskins out at halftime, Callahan responded, “He was cleared. He was fine. There was no consideration at that point.”

“I hurt it in the 2nd quarter of the game, but I had to battle through it,” Haskins said after the game. “It’s a tough injury, but I’ll be alright.”

That is the exact answer you would want from a franchise quarterback: A willingness to battle through an injury he was capable of playing on. But that it is not the answer most fans want from an interim head coach of a now 3-10 team who is supposed to be guiding that franchise quarterback safely through his rookie season.

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Playing a quarterback on a sprained ankle is not the same as risking Griffin on a torn-up knee on a torn-up FedEx Field. And while Haskins' rookie season could not be more different than RGIII's in 2012, the wounds are still not closed. And every Redskins fan watched every snap Sunday with bated breath accordingly. The Packers pass rush is relentless and Haskins' inability to escape left him vulnerable. 

“There was no way I was coming out of the game,” Haskins said when asked if he ever considered exiting. “I hurt my ankle in high school in the last game of my career and I didn’t come out then and I wasn’t going to come out now.”

But that is kind of the point. Haskins is so young he’s still referencing high school. Again, that’s not a shot at him. He should think like that and should want to play and should think, 'I’ve done this before and I’ll be damned if you’re taking me out of this game.'

But he would have sat out of his coaches told him to because that’s how the league works. At the very least the discussion on the sideline 'We’re 3-9 and he’s the future and we’re not risking it.' This is the conversation that you would expect to have happened, but Callahan was INSISTENT on the fact that it never did.

“We did,” Callahan said when asked if he saw Haskins limping. “But he's a competitor. He didn’t want to come out. He felt fine. He felt good. There was no medical reasons to make a switch or anything of that nature. I never entered our mind or anybody else’s mind so we rolled with Dwayne.”

“He battled hard,” Callahan continued. “He battled through some tough bumps I guess, but there was never an instance where we considered taking him out of the game. Never occurred to us.”

Haskins can be applauded for his toughness while the organization is being roasted by fans who care about it for not protecting its franchise quarterback from himself. This isn’t more complicated than laid out above. There is no next level nuance. The season has long been over. Ensuring Haskins gets quality reps and then makes it through okay so he can have an absolutely critical off-season is priority No. 1 for the franchise.

Yet on the day where the franchise running back in Derrius Guice went down again with another knee injury and franchise ironman Ryan Kerrigan went out for the second time in as many games with an apparent leg injury, the guy the Redskins hope is future of the franchise, playing the most important position in football, soldiered on. Hobbling through four quarters of a 20-15 defeat.

It feels as if the debate of whether discretion is the better part of valor could linger for some time, as well.

Craig Hoffman is the Redskins beat reporter for 106.7 The Fan. His post-game columns are powered by Dell EMC and TVAR Solutions -- transforming the federal data center.

Follow @CraigHoffman on Twitter for the latest Redskins news.