Washington Football Team remaining focused despite the noise


The Washington Football Team is focused on the Carolina Panthers amid a noisy week.

In what has been anything but a normal week for the Washington Football Team, between the Dwayne Haskins’ fiasco and news of Dan Snyder’s sexual harassment settlement, Coach Ron Rivera is done with the noise and ready to focus on Sunday.

Whether you agree with the way Ron Rivera and the team punished Dwayne Haskins for his actions following Sunday’s game or not, one thing is sure, Rivera and the team is ready to move on.

Earlier this week, pictures emerged of Haskins at a private party along with a group of strippers, breaking multiple COVID-19 protocols established by the NFL. In a typical year, this would not have been an issue, but in the middle of a pandemic and a playoff push, Haskins’ actions seemed to not only be selfish but potentially detrimental to the team’s playoff aspirations.

Many, myself included, believed Haskins should have been suspended or even cut, as his immaturity has resurfaced time and time again, but the team decided to hold off on that. Instead, the team took away his captaincy and fined him $40,000.

You really have to empathize with the position Rivera was put into since he had to weigh between suspending Haskins and sending a message versus having to potentially go into Sunday’s game with Taylor Heinicke and Steven Montez as your quarterbacks.

Suspending Haskins would potentially hurt the team’s playoff chances, so Rivera made the decision to choose the team over Haskins.

After Haskins was seen taking first-team reps in practice, it piqued a lot of interest regarding his punishment and his ability to participate despite breaking protocols, with many juxtaposing the situation to what the Broncos had faced earlier this season.

Almost half of Wednesday’s media session with Rivera focused on Haskins and the team’s decision.

Again, I told you we consulted with the NFL, we formulated a plan that was approved and because of that we were able to do it. Part of the plan is that Dwayne tests every day. He gets two tests to ensure it. He wears a mask under his helmet, which has a face shield as well, during practice. He works on his social distancing. We have contact tracing with him and constantly have him moving. The ideal situation is because we practice outside and all our meetings are virtual.

Rivera continuously referenced working with the NFL in coming up with the team’s internal punishment, almost making it seem like he didn’t fully agree with the decision he did. It could be inferred that Dan Snyder may have influenced the leniency of the punishment since he was very involved in the decision to draft the quarterback.

Rivera reiterated that Alex Smith is the team’s starter, but said if he is unable to play, Haskins would start on Sunday. Smith worked on the side in practice on Wednesday and took part in a few drills, but it is unclear if he will be ready to go for Sunday.

Over the past few days, Haskins talked to Rivera five or six times about the incident. Rivera appreciated that the quarterback was forthright about the incident and was quick to take responsibility.

Haskins also talked to the team before practice to apologize for his actions.

“I thought [the team’s] reaction to [the situation] was appropriate. There was some supportiveness in it as well, the way they reacted to his apology, which was important. You know he’s one of us and you know it’s one of those things that they know he made a mistake, they accepted that because he was upfront about it, and I really do appreciate the way they supported them.

As more and more questions continued to pour in, Rivera quickly began to grow frustrated, wanting to move on to talking about Sunday’s game.

Okay, just so everyone knows, we play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. I’ve answered enough questions on [Haskins’ situation]. You guys have had enough opportunity to get enough information about this. We are playing Carolina, if I don’t get any more Carolina questions, I’m done.

Again, let’s not make what’s interesting important. What’s important for this franchise right now is that we are going forward. We play on Sunday. The game on Sunday to me is more important than what has happened.

Despite Haskins’ actions being immature and irresponsible, the team is ready to move on from the incident. With the goal of a playoff berth still very real for Washington, none of the off-the-field noise matters.

This team has proven time and time again that they have bought into Rivera’s culture. This latest incident should ultimately become a footnote in what has already been an impressive season for this franchise.


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