Ron Rivera’s ‘cutoff level’ for Dwayne Haskins is likely to be much less of a risk, extra of a problem

When Haskins revealed the conversation on Wednesday afternoon, he didn’t say how long the two men talked, or where it was, or how angry or calm Rivera might have been. Most of the time he said the meeting was “great” and that he had to “be better for this offense” and show “what [the team] must see of me. ”

Haskins seemed glad they had spoken.

Still, something had changed in Rivera’s tone that day when he spoke about Haskins at his morning video press conference. After saying on Sunday that he was signed to Haskins as the starting quarterback and wondering aloud what it would bring for Haskins’ development to put him on the bench, his comments on Monday included words like “regression” and admitted that Haskins could potentially lose his job if he kept playing bad and saying, “There’s a limit for me.”

Rivera’s words could be seen as a warning to a young quarterback – just because he was a first-round draft pick last season and the suspected quarterback for the future team doesn’t mean he has a season to prove himself . It could have been a reminder that Rivera can still bench him and the team might look elsewhere for his starting quarterback at some point.

But they also sounded a lot like a challenge, similar to the one that Rivera gave Haskins in January shortly after the coach was hired, and he told Haskins he needed to earn the quarterback starting job even though it was the obvious choice to join the team to lead . Urban Meyer, who trained Haskins in the state of Ohio, told Rivera that he learned over time that Haskins must be challenged regularly to achieve his maximum performance.

Rivera never used the word “challenge” on Monday to describe his approach to Haskins. Instead, his clues that Haskins’ future as a starter might be in doubt dangled heavily in the air. Even so, Haskins had responded well to meeting Rivera on January first and worked hard to lose weight, learn the new offense, and fix mechanical defects.

Whatever in that conversation with Rivera, and in the subsequent conversations Haskins had with Alex Smith – who was a confidante last year – Haskins seemed to take them seriously.

“To be honest, I know I can be better,” said Haskins on Wednesday. “I have to be better for this offense. For that to happen, I have to do the job. Anyone can sit there and feel sorry for themselves or have a pity party or blame other external factors for why it is the way it is. But I have really preached this off-season because I am aware of your mistakes and understand them and understand how you can progress and get better for yourself. ”

He said he had studied what went wrong in Cleveland last Sunday and how to learn from mistakes such as rushing to throw or looking too long at his recipient. He sounded like someone who had been pushed by his coaches to understand the importance of improving quickly.

“I just want to be better at everything,” said Haskins on Wednesday. “I’m still young, I can’t just sit here and pretend I got there or I made it.”

He later added, “I want to be a Hall of Fame quarterback one day. By God, it won’t be easy. I want it to be hard, hard as hell just so I can show that I can and prove to myself and my teammates that they believe in me and trust me. ”

While Rivera has often said that he still views Haskins as a rookie season, much like Cam Newton did in Rivera’s first season as a Carolina Panthers coach, he has never publicly pushed Newton the way Haskins did this year. Instead, he gave Newton the job at the start and supported his quarterback, although he was intercepted three times in two games and four times in another.

Newton was a different quarterback, but number 1 overall with unique skills. Newton threw for 4,051 yards and ran for another 706 that season and was named the league’s rookie of the year. Rivera didn’t have to publicly challenge Newton in the same way.

Saying that there might be a point where he puts Haskins on the bench, Rivera opens a potentially dangerous door and weekly invites questions about changing a quarterback. Because of this, the phrase “limit” felt less like a deadline and more like a challenge.

Will Haskins rise to this challenge too?

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