While Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins takes blame for their 34-20 loss to the Cleveland Browns, Coach Ron Rivera said he will stand by Haskins despite the “lumps” that come with the young QB learning on the field. (Courtesy Photo)

By Mark Gray
AFRO Staff Writer

There is always a learning curve when a young quarterback is developing. Dwayne Haskins Jr. wasn’t up to the challenge of the Cleveland Browns last weekend and that missing link was key to their demise, which is not a comforting thought with the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson heading to FedEx Field this weekend.

Haskins was awful in his first trip to the Buckeye state since leaving Ohio State, where Washington mortgaged a significant part of its future to move up and select him with the no. 2 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. To this point, Haskins has been buffered by the unprofessionalism of former head coach Jay Gruden, who stunted his rookie year’s development through a reluctance to give him meaningful practice time with the first team. 

However, last Sunday there were no excuses for Haskins futility. He finished 21/37 for 224 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in their 34-20 loss to the Browns. Haskins was the defensive player of the game for Cleveland as his turnovers accounted directly for 17 points that were the difference in this loss. The three interceptions were the most since his first game as a starter versus the New York Giants last year.

Haskins completed two touchdown passes to Dontrelle Inman, but he had two unforced errors that were atrocious before halftime, which helped Cleveland open a 17-7 lead at the break. To his credit, Haskins never lost his composure and helped the team rally from both mistakes only to fumble and give the momentum back to the Browns, who spent most of the fourth quarter playing ball control and protecting the lead in the second half.

”My teammates did a great job trying to keep my head up knowing there were plays I wish I could have back,” Haskins said. ”I’m going to make sure I’m better and take the blame for what I did and get better from it.”

Washington rookie defensive end Chase Young led the terrorizing of Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield before a groin injury shut him down for good in the second quarter. Young started the game tied for the NFL lead with two-and-a-half  sacks and the Browns focused on slowing him down. He didn’t record a tackle before getting hurt, but his pressure led to sacks by Jonathan Allen and Ryan Kerrigan. 

The defense ultimately wore down in the fourth quarter after  trying to bail them out from the multitude of Haskins’ mistakes. If head coach Ron Rivera’s patience is being tested by the struggles of his young quarterback he’s not showing it. Rivera took his lumps with his former quarterback Cam Newton and vowed to remain committed to the same program he used during the growing pains of his early years with the Carolina Panthers.

“The only way we’re going to truly find out where Dwayne is and what he can do for us is to put him out on the field and get him exposed,” said Rivera.

“That’s what we did with Cam Newton. Look where he is today. Cam Newton was the league MVP because we trusted him, we took our lumps with him. I’m going to take my lumps with Dwayne right now. As long as he continues to do things that show you he can make things happen, I’m going to support the young man.”

Washington was able to stay close with the Browns because Cleveland doesn’t understand how to play winning football yet. Baltimore will be a different challenge altogether. Haskins must play better or the Ravens will run them off FedEX Field Sunday by halftime.