Here are three mystery quarterbacks:
Quarterback 1 is 97-for-160 (61 percent) this season for 930 yards with four touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He’s been sacked 14 times in four games, of which his team has won one.
Quarterback 2 is 89-for-146 (61 percent) this season for 939 yards with four touchdown passes and three interceptions. He’s been sacked 13 times in four games, of which his team has won one.
Quarterback 3 is 91-for-149 (61 percent) this season for 889 yards with two touchdown passes and five interceptions. He’s been sacked 14 times in four games, of which his team has won zero.
All three quarterbacks were picked in the top half of the first round of the draft in the last five years.
Now, pop quiz: Who’s getting benched for Week 5?
Is it Quarterback 1, the one who’s thrown the most interceptions in the NFL?
Is it Quarterback 2, the one with the fewest completions, but also the fewest attempts?
Is it Quarterback 3, the one with the fewest touchdown passes of anyone who’s started four games in the NFL this season?
Why, yes, one of them does happen to be a Black quarterback. And, yes, that quarterback is the one without any kind of superlative to indicate that he’s been at the ass end of the entire league. And, yes, that quarterback is the one who won’t be starting this week.
Quarterbacks 1, 2, and 3 are Carson Wentz, Dwayne Haskins, and Haskins’ 2019 first-round draft mate Daniel Jones, and Haskins is stepping aside this week for Kyle Allen, last seen getting sacked 46 times while completing 62 percent of his passes and throwing 17 touchdowns with 16 interceptions for the Panthers a year ago in place of an injured Cam Newton.
Is Washington in a better position to make a quarterback change than Philadelphia, with rookie Jalen Hurts as its backup, or New York, with 34-year-old Colt McCoy behind Jones? Yes.
Is it explicitly racist that Washington is sending Haskins to the bench? Not at all.
But is it a sign of institutional racism that it’s the Black guy who gets pulled while the other two quarterbacks keep plodding along with their trash NFC East teams? Maybe?
The wrinkle here is that Washington coach Ron Rivera revealed one of the Football Team’s four quarterbacks — they also have Alex Smith and Steven Montez — has antibodies for COVID-19. Rivera refused to say which one, but said, “We try to keep him away from everybody else as much as possible.”
With veteran Alex Smith poised to serve as Allen’s backup this weekend, maybe that means it’s Haskins. But we don’t know because Washington isn’t saying.
So all we know is that a quarterback with a franchise’s future hopes pinned to him through a lofty draft position is getting pulled after a lackluster start to the season in which that team still is only a half-game out of first place in its dumpster fire of a division. We’re left to ponder which of the NFL’s ongoing issues — fumbling with racial issues or plotzing in the face of a pandemic — is the reason why.
In one case, it’s an embarrassment that Haskins is getting benched for Allen a month into the season. In the other case, it’s a whole different kind of embarrassment. The explanation will come out, but regardless of what it is, it’s not going to be a good look for anybody in an NFL season that’s going off the rails in a hurry.