Allen in at QB as WFT awaits Rams visit
After watching the Washington Football Team lose the past three games by double digits, coach Ron Rivera is making a major change.
Rivera benched second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins, demoting him to third string, and named Kyle Allen the starter for Sunday’s game against the visiting Los Angeles Rams. Alex Smith was elevated to No. 2 on the depth chart.
“I’m here to win,” Rivera said Wednesday. “Now’s an opportunity to find out if we can win.”
Haskins was the 15th overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, but Rivera told reporters on Wednesday that he wanted to field a quarterback with a better understanding of the offensive system put in place by Washington (1-3). Allen draws the Rams (3-1) before a stretch of games against NFC East opponents, including a pair against the winless Giants with a visit from the Dallas Cowboys (1-3) in between.
Allen played the past two seasons for Rivera in Carolina, starting 13 games.
Allen got off to a strong start last season after taking over for injured starter Cam Newton in the third game. He threw seven touchdowns with no interceptions and won his first four starts, but he and Carolina faded in the second half, losing their final eight games.
The Rams have a winning record through the first four games for the fifth straight season and can finish 4-0 against the NFC East with a win against Washington.
Los Angeles is coming off a 17-9 win vs. the New York Giants on Sunday. They also beat the Philadelphia Eagles (37-19) on Sept. 20 and the Dallas Cowboys (20-17) in the season opener.
There’s plenty of room for improvement.
“This is nowhere near our best on both sides of the ball,” Rams cornerback Darious Williams said after his late interception sealed the win against the Giants. “I just see a ton of growth happening in these next 12 games.”
The Rams are racking up the airline miles early in the season. Since opening SoFi Stadium in Week 1, they’ve played at Philadelphia and Buffalo and head to Maryland this weekend. They still have trips to Tampa and Miami on the schedule.
Whether cornerback Jalen Ramsey is along for the trip this week is up in the air. The Rams are not planning to share publicly any discipline handed down to Ramsey for the on-field fight with Giants wide receiver Golden Tate after last week’s game. The NFL could still have a word in the matter.
“It was really more along the lines of ‘Let’s be smart. Let’s make sure we don’t let this take away from what we just were able to accomplish as a team,'” Rams head coach Sean McVay said.
Haskins is likely to be inactive when Jared Goff and the Rams visit FedEx Field.
Smith, 36, is a 14-year veteran who started the first 10 games for Washington two years ago before severely breaking his leg on Nov. 18, 2018. He has not been active since.
Haskins was coming off one of his better performances this season, completing 32 of 45 passes for 314 yards in a 31-17 loss to the visiting Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. He didn’t throw any touchdowns or commit a turnover. A week earlier, he committed four turnovers in a 34-20 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
“I think our best chance to win is putting the ball in somebody else’s hands,” Rivera said. “I think our best chance to have things done in our offense is in somebody else’s hands. That’s what I’m doing. I’m doing that based on what I’ve seen. I just think right now, this is the decision I’m making.”
Washington second-year wide receiver Terry McLaurin seemed in sync with Haskins. They were teammates at Ohio State. McLaurin caught a career-high 10 passes against Baltimore for 118 yards.
McLaurin, fifth in the NFL with 387 receiving yards, missed practice on Wednesday with a thigh injury, but is expected to play Sunday.
McLaurin will likely recognize at least one player in the secondary for the Rams.
Jordan Fuller, a rookie safety from Ohio State, is expected to return after missing Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury.
Los Angeles expects a boost to its strong running game with the return of rookie Cam Akers, a second-round draft pick out of Florida State who missed the past two games with a rib injury.
Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown have split the workload for the Rams, who are seventh in the NFL at 142.3 rushing yards a game. Akers provides another quality option.
Washington is allowing 129.8 rushing yards per game this season.
–Field Level Media