Few things in the NFL are more controversial than benching a quarterback. And if the quarterback being benched happened to be black and his replacement happens to be white, you’ve got the makings of a full-blown internet backlash on your hands.
Such is the situation Ron Rivera, head coach of the Washington Football Team finds himself in today.
On Wednesday, the team formerly known as the Redskins, announced that they were benching quarterback Dwayne Haskins ( who happens to be black) for Kyle Allen (a quarterback who happens to be white).
A decision was made to bench Dwayne Haskins Jr vs the Rams. Kyle Allen will get the start. Alex Smith will be the back up. #WashingtonFootball
— Julie Donaldson (@juliedonaldson_) October 7, 2020
Not long after, the internet became flooded with outrage over the benching of a black quarterback in favor of a white player, and comparisons between Haskins and Daniel Jones (white) who was selected in the same draft.
Dwayne Haskins through 4 games: 1-3 record; 939 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 3 INTs
Daniel Jones through 4 games: 0-4 record; 889 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 5 INTs
Why do Black QBs seems to get much shorter leashes? https://t.co/34Tt88pQW1
— David Wysong (@DavidWysong_) October 7, 2020
Others chimed in as well.
Only in DC….
Haskins 1-3, 4 TD, 3 INT, 1 fumble, 60.9% completion, 80.3 QB rating. BENCHED.
Daniel Jones, 0-4, 2 TD, 5 INT 1 fumble, 61% completion, 68.3 QB rating. … Give him time to develop.
— Mike Jones (@ByMikeJones) October 7, 2020
Some took the more explicit racial route:
Developing or being average is not something they allow black QBs to do. You can be elite but anything other than that is a no for them.
— quincy_avery (@Quincy_Avery) October 7, 2020
68.3 Daniel Jones
70.7 Sam Darnold
80.3 Dwayne Haskins
Haskins deserves time to develop just like young white QBs, esp on team w/29th rated offensive line (PFF) & lacks offensive weapons. Black QBs don’t get multiple growth chances like white ones. https://t.co/MyPBGAAuBS
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) October 7, 2020
Ima just say it: black qbs are 10x more disposable (if not more) than their counterparts…this is inexcusable https://t.co/Umh0jz5W1f
— ChoZen(19) (@ChoZen_19) October 7, 2020
NFL Teams give up on black QBs way faster than white QBs https://t.co/BGwyqvjPG8
— SogeKing 🇸🇴 (@sama__tar) October 7, 2020
A couple things must be noted from the start: Yes, Daniel Jones has not been great in his four games this season. However, if you couple his 13 games played last year with his four starts this year – one full season of play plus one game – he’s thrown for 3,916 yards, 26 TD’s, and 17 picks. Those are pretty respectable numbers for a quarterback’s first full season.
The Giants also built Jones an offense that was completely dependent on Saquon Barkley, who is out for the year. Haskins has limited weapons as well. Though, he still has his #1 wide receiver and his #1 running back. Moreover, Haskins is frequently off target and isn’t elevating the players around him.
Still, regardless, while there’s room for debate on whether Haskins should have been benched the idea that the motivation was racial or a sign of some racial trend is absurd.
Ron Rivera, the head coach who made the decision to bench Haskins, is of Mexican descent. He is not white. His quarterback for almost the entire duration of his tenure in Carolina prior to coming to Washington, was Cam Newton, who is black.
Rivera also publicly said he would stick with Haskins in the immediate aftermath of some ugly performances against the Cardinals and the Browns. Then, a few days later, took a harder line and said Haskins needed to play better or he would be benched.
Why the sudden change?
Chances are Rivera heard feedback from the rest of his players (most of whom are black) voicing great frustration at their efforts being sabotaged by a quarterback who was inaccurate and prone to turnovers.
In other words, there’s a strong chance the majority black Washington Football Team influenced the decision to bench Haskins.
Whatever directly led to the decision, the reality is that while Haskins has some talent and abilities, he is not at this time mechanically sound or mentally mature enough for the position. While many looked at this year as a development year for Haskins and the team, the fact that the NFC East is a dumpster fire with three total wins across all four teams, means that the division is in play for Washington if they can get even competent quarterback performances. To anyone who has watched Washington this year, it’s pretty clear that they weren’t getting that.
Kyle Allen, though he has a far better record as a started than Haskins, is no great shakes either. However, as the team said in a follow-up tweet, the eventual plan is to get Alex Smith back into the starter’s spot. Thus completing an epic comeback story after his gruesome leg injury of two years ago.
In short, Dwayne Haskins may one day be good, but that day isn’t now. And the WFT is trying to win now.