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Washington benches Dwayne Haskins, names Kyle Allen starting QB vs. Rams

Ron Rivera's "cut-off point" for Dwayne Haskins was four games, apparently.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that Washington made a QB switch, benching Haskins and handing the reins to Kyle Allen for Sunday's game against the L.A. Rams, per a source informed of the situation. Alex Smith will be the backup and Haskins will be inactive, the team announced.

The move is a swift turn from the former first-round pick, who has started 11 total games in his young career over two seasons. Just last week, Rivera noted he was committed to Haskins after a three-pick performance. Commitment is fleeting in the NFL.

"We're 1-3. Watching the game and Dwayne's play, Dwayne needs more work," Rivera told reporters Wednesday. "He just hasn't had enough work in, and that's the thing I think I hope that everyone understands. He's got a live NFL arm. But he only played one year in college, he played very limited last year -- I liked the things that I saw from last year -- and this year he played, we gave him every opportunity, we gave him all the reps with the 1s, we gave him an opportunity to start four games and gave us a chance to truly evaluate him.

"But with the (NFC East) division where it is right now, I'd be stupid not to give it a shot and see what happens in the next four games. But I wanted to put it in the hands of somebody who knows the system a little bit better, backed up by a guy that's been there."

Haskins is coming off his first career 300-plus yard passing game in the 31-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The 23-year-old set career highs in attempts (45), completions (32), pass yards (314) and completion percentage (71.1, min 20 attempts) in Week 4.

The inconsistencies, however, have been glaring.

Haskins too often glares at his first read like it's a staring contest, which either leads the defense right to the play or throws off the timing with the rest of the routes if he finally moves on in his progression. His footwork still gets wonky at times, which leads to overthrows or mistargeted worm-burners. Through four games, Haskins has thrown for 939 yards with 4 TDs to 3 INTs and he's taken 13 sacks (on pace for 52 over 16 games). Next Gen Stats ranks Haskins as a -27.4 EPA (expected points added) through the first month, fourth-worst among QBs with at least 50 pass attempts. His -6.6 completion percentage over expected is second-worst, ahead of only Broncos QB Jeff Driskel, who was benched after 64 attempts.

There have been flashes of potential from Haskins' big arm, and he has made strides within Washington's new offense, but apparently, those positives weren't enough to give the first-rounder a longer leash.

"He should be disappointed. If he wasn't disappointed, I'd be concerned," Rivera said of Haskins. "But right now we're in a situation where, if we're still trying teach one guy and the other 52 aren't given the opportunity to see if we can win these next four games, then that's not fair.

"We're trying to develop a young quarterback, but we've got one eye on what's happening in our division. If somebody was 4-0 and somebody else was 3-1, OK. But there's a chance to win here."

The Eagles currently lead the NFC East with a 1-2-1 record. Washington and Dallas are tied at 1-3, with the Giants pulling up the rear at 0-4. Three of Washington's next four games are against division opponents.

Rivera turns to Allen, whom he brought with him from Carolina. The coach spoke highly of Allen after trading for the Panthers backup QB, often suggesting this offseason that Allen could start in D.C. Most took that as coach-speak to keep a fire lit under Haskins. After just four games, Rivera turns to the third-year pro.

Allen started 13 games for the Panthers from 2018-2019, earning a 61.9 completion percentage, 250.4 passing yards per game, and a 19-15 TD-INT ratio as a starter. Carolina went 6-7 in his starts.

Last year after taking over for Cam Newton in Week 3, things started great for Allen, as he helped the Panthers to four straight wins under Rivera, and the QB tossed 7 TDs to 0 INTs with a 106.6 passer rating. It all fell apart down the stretch as Carolina lost six straight games with Allen as the starter from Weeks 10-15. During that run of losses, Rivera was fired. After a good first month, Allen went 1-7 as a starter the rest of 2019 with 10 TDs, 15 INTs and a 70.9 passer rating.

Clearly, Rivera believes Allen can run Scott Turner's offense more efficiently. The team must feel that Allen's struggles down the stretch were a product of the surrounding situation in Carolina, not the fact that the rest of the league caught on that the QB struggled when his first read was taken away and had problems handling pressure.

Allen's familiarly with Turner's offense should be an asset out of the gate Sunday against the Rams.

If Allen struggles, the question is whether Rivera might turn back to Haskins after letting the second-year signal-caller watch from the bench for a few games. Or, perhaps, Washington might turn to the veteran Smith, who remains on the active roster as he continues to make his way back from a gruesome leg injury.

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