Urban Meyer defends Dwayne Haskins, says Redskins were a mess and need to surround QB with elite culture – CBS Sports

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As Dwayne Haskins enters his second season in the NFL with the Washington Redskins after a rookie year that can be best described as turbulent, he still has himself one supporter: Urban Meyer. The man who coached Haskins during his 4,831-yard, 50-touchdown season at Ohio State in 2018, which led to the Redskins taking the QB 15th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, is still a believer in Haskins — though, his recent comments made in support of Haskins came with a bit of a catch.

Speaking to Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks on the Move the Sticks podcast, Meyer expressed belief that Haskins can still succeed in the NFL, but he can’t do it alone. The Redskins need to surround him with “really great players” and a “really elite culture” — you know, like the kind of players and culture he was surrounded by at Ohio State. 

“I hate to be so simplistic on this, but you better surround him with some really good players,” Meyer said, via NFL.com. “The NFL is amazing to me is that the minute a team, they draft a quarterback, they put him on a very bad team or there are a lot of culture issues. Which I, I don’t want to start throwing stones, but I do know. I talk to my guys. I talk to a lot of these players.

“So it’s the quarterback’s fault now that their coach got fired after what, [Week 5]. They were in complete disarray and it’s the quarterback’s fault now. I wish college was that easy. For some reason it’s not the quarterback’s fault, it’s the coach’s fault. To me, it’s about culture and leadership. You want Dwayne to be a great player? Surround him with some really great players. Surround him with a really elite culture.”

It’s safe to say the Redskins do not have a similar type of roster or culture as Ohio State. They made the playoffs only twice in the last decade. They haven’t finished with a double-digit win total since 2012, RG3’s rookie year with Mike Shanahan.

“So it’s the quarterback’s fault?” Meyer said. “Nevermind the fact that their coach got fired, the place is a mess, there’s this going on, there’s this going on, this going on. A lot of stuff I heard from behind the scenes — cause, once again I have several players there — yet it’s Dwayne’s fault.”

Meyer isn’t wrong. Jay Gruden did get fired midway through the season. Stud left tackle Trent Williamsnow with the 49ers — didn’t play the entire season as he feuded with the team over a serious medical issue. While rookie receiver Terry McLaurin broke out with 919 yards and seven touchdowns, a second playmaker was entirely absent. Running back Chris Thompson, now with Jacksonville, finished second on the team in receiving yards with 378. With Haskins as the starter, the Redskins went 2-5, but it’s not like they fared better without him. They went 1-8 in games started by Case Keenum and Colt McCoy.

The point being, the Redskins had issues. Haskins wasn’t the only problem in Washington. 

Meyer isn’t wrong, but there’s also an argument to be made that his comments aren’t the most ringing endorsement of Haskins. Teams often draft quarterbacks in the first round to elevate the team around them. Great quarterbacks — from a Patrick Mahomes to a Deshaun Watson — are supposed to make inferior teammates around them better. Watson has dragged the Texans to the playoffs despite being saddled with a terrible offensive line and Bill O’Brien at coach. In 2018, Mahomes nearly took the Chiefs to the Super Bowl despite playing with one of the league’s worst defenses. Having a great quarterback makes roster-building significantly easier, because a great quarterback can cover up a team’s deficiencies.

But every young quarterback can’t be another Mahomes or Watson. Those are unreasonable expectations. Haskins can be a successful quarterback in the NFL without ever being as good as Mahomes or Watson. There are a number of good quarterbacks who need help around them in order to thrive. A certain ex-Redskins quarterback now in Minnesota comes to mind. Nobody is saying Kirk Cousins isn’t a good quarterback (well, I’m sure someone out there is). He just needs some help, like a vast majority of other NFL quarterbacks do. I don’t think anyone believes Jimmy Garoppolo would be enjoying nearly the same amount of success if he didn’t land in San Francisco with Kyle Shanahan and a loaded roster. Supporting casts matter.

To Meyer’s credit, he stuck to his line of reasoning when talking about Joe Burrow, the top overall pick in this year’s draft who is being asked to turn around a 2-14 Bengals team. He thinks the same logic applies to him.

“You know, Joe Burrow, he’s at the Cincinnati Bengals now and they were 2-14 last year,” Meyer said. “You want to know how Joe Burrow’s gonna become great? Surround him with a great culture, with great leadership, and some great players, he’ll be great. If not, he won’t.”

Finally, some good news for Haskins: The Redskins slowly appear to be getting their act together. They fired longtime general manager Bruce Allen. They hired Ron Rivera, a respected veteran coach who took the Panthers to a Super Bowl. If he can’t turn the culture around, not many would be able to — outside of the Bill Belichicks and Andy Reids and Sean Paytons of the NFL. At No. 2 in the draft, the Redskins very well could’ve drafted a quarterback like Tua Tagovailoa and ditched the Haskins experiment after only one season. Instead, they took edge rusher Chase Young. The only quarterback they added was Kyle Allen, who is better suited for a backup role. Haskins is going to have a tremendous opportunity to emerge as the team’s starter given the lack of competition on the roster.

The only problem? The Redskins might be making progress, but to undo all the bad that came before, they’ll likely need more than one offseason to truly ascend. That might not matter for Haskins, who could already be running short on time to convince the team he’s their long-term quarterback.

If he wins the job, he’ll need to show more than he did a year ago, when he completed 58.6 percent of his passes, averaged 151.7 yards per game and 6.7 yards per attempt, threw an equal number of touchdowns and interceptions (7), and accumulated a 76.1 passer rating. If he struggles and the Redskins bumble their way to another top-five pick, regardless whether it’s his fault or not, he could find himself getting replaced by another first-round pick like Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields. 

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