Mark R. Bacon—Main Event Sports DC
First half in two words: COMPLETE DISASTER. The Redskins fired coach Jay Gruden after an 0-5 start. They failed to trade holdout tackle Trent Williams, leading to harsh words by the Pro Bowler after he reported. They lost key players to injuries (tight end Jordan Reed and running back Chris Thompson) and, at 1-8, are off to their worst start in 21 years. They wanted rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins to sit and learn all year, but those plans were derailed and he’s endured growing pains. Meanwhile, their stadium has become a home away from home for visiting teams.
First-half MVP: Running back Adrian Peterson. He did little in the first five games, largely a coaching decision, but has been the main reason Washington has had a chance in any game. He has eight carries of 15-plus yards in the past four games; a younger Peterson would have ripped off some long touchdown runs. He’s past that point, but his passion and toughness haven’t waned. In the past four games, he has rushed for 383 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry — without the benefit of a passing attack.
The second half will be a success if: Haskins develops. The rookie has no touchdown passes on 44 throws over eight and a half quarters. Haskins is not in an optimal spot considering the dearth of offensive talent, but he must show how he handles protection calls or how well he’s making his reads and avoiding turnovers. He needs to show the veterans — and any prospective coaches — he can handle the job. But he also must make a big play or two with his arm. He has attempted two passes of 20 yards or longer; completing neither.