After 21 years of dysfunction under owner Dan Snyder, it appears the Washington Football Team is now resorting to reruns.
The saga of Dwayne Haskins, the Washington quarterback who was benched last week in favor of Kyle Allen, shares more than a passing resemblance with that of Robert Griffin III, who is currently in Baltimore after his own tumultuous tenure in D.C.
One key difference: Griffin had a magical season of success, arguably the franchise’s best year under Snyder’s ownership. The Haskins high point, at the moment, is a victory over the Eagles in Week 1.
As for the rest ...
Similarity 1: Coveted by the owner: After finalizing the trade with the Los Angeles Rams that brought Griffin to Washington, Snyder and then-team president Bruce Allen reportedly flew to the Bahamas to celebrate.
Snyder and Griffin hit it off right away, with Snyder joining the Griffin family for Thanksgiving dinner after a big 2012 victory in Dallas.
Haskins was also sought after by Snyder. According to an ESPN report, Snyder intervened on draft night in 2019 to ensure the team selected Haskins, who went to high school with Snyder’s son.
Similarity 2: Rejected by his first coach: Haskins couldn’t do much about this one — Jay Gruden didn’t want him, and going into a hot-seat year, lobbied against drafting a quarterback who couldn’t contribute immediately.
Interim coach Bill Callahan is mostly a non-factor in this discussion, as he only had eyes for Adrian Peterson.
It took longer for things to fray between Griffin and Mike Shanahan, but a knee injury, and Griffin’s subsequent request to become a pocket passer, started that process in motion.
Similarity 3: Questions about work ethic: After Shanahan left town, reports started popping up about Griffin’s work ethic, and whether he was putting in the time necessary to succeed.
ESPN analyst Steve Young gave voice to those concerns.
“I’ve talked to his previous coaches, people I really trust and admire, that know quarterbacks,” Young said in 2014. “He doesn’t put the time in.”
Haskins’ benching has been accompanied by a similar chorus.
The Athletic reported that coaches can see how much time a player spends on his tablet watching game film, and Haskins’ was “abnormally low.”
Similarity 4: Rejected by his second coach: It’s easy to forget that a big part of the reason Jay Gruden was hired was because of his reputation working with quarterbacks. He was supposed to fix Griffin and make him the centerpiece of the Redskins’ offense.
Instead, in an infamous 2014 press conference, Gruden ripped Griffin’s performance as being “not even close to good enough.”
Rivera never promised to make Haskins great but did promise him an open mind and the opportunity to win the starting job in Washington, as well as praising Haskins throughout training camp for his offseason work.
Those good feelings lasted three weeks. After a loss in Cleveland, Rivera noted that there would be a “cutoff point” for Haskins. It turns out that was one week later.
Similarity 5: Confusion over missed time: After being knocked out of a preseason game, Griffin was diagnosed with a concussion, though he did not admit to having one. Later that week he was cleared by doctors to play, then uncleared 24 hours later.
After being benched, Haskins missed the next week with a gastrointestinal ailment. On Wednesday, offensive coordinator Scott Turner said, “From everything I hear, I expect him to feel better and be out here tomorrow.” Haskins then missed Thursday’s practice.
Similarity 6: Parental involvement: After a 2013 loss, Griffin’s dad came into the Washington locker room after the game and chatted with him for a while. It briefly became a to-do, because it was the first time anybody could remember a parent in the locker room.
Haskins’ father oversaw a draft night extravaganza in Maryland and gave interviews to reporters on-site after.
“I predict, in two or three years, get ready: Super Bowl,” he said.