Matt Cassel:


The Washington Redskins don't have an easy decision this week regarding who to start at quarterback against an elite New England Patriots defense.

As a player, you want to be out there as much as possible, and I’m sure Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins wants to get the taste out of his mouth from last week's loss to the New York Giants, specifically the way it unraveled, throwing three interceptions. That’s never how you want to start, but at the same time, you want to learn from those experiences and get an opportunity to go back out as soon as possible and change the storyline.

It’s an interesting balancing act, especially for Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and his staff because so much of what a quarterback does in his performance is based on confidence, and right now, Haskins is reeling with his confidence.

And to go up against a team like the Patriots, who have the No. 1 defense in the NFL and are playing at a very high level, it's a tough situation for a young player. Historically, it’s evident they challenge young quarterbacks with their pressure, their high-intensity and the different looks they show. The Patriots have won 18 consecutive games against rookie or second-year quarterbacks for a reason.

Do you take a risk at really shattering the kid’s confidence and him going out and risking another bad performance? It could happen that way, but at the same time, Haskins could go out and play great and gain a lot of confidence, which would really benefit him. But you also have two other veteran quarterbacks with Colt McCoy possibly coming back healthy, as well as Case Keenum, who started the first four games.

Which quarterback would I start Sunday in Washington?

I think it depends on where McCoy is at. He’s a guy who’s been in Gruden's system for several years. He’s had some success under Gruden, and he’s a guy I know they have confidence in. He knows the system, he’s a guy they like, but he hasn’t been healthy. If McCoy is good to go in Week 5, I think I’m going with him.

The way last week shook out — they wanted to make a change at quarterback, and you just don’t know if Haskins is ready yet as a young quarterback going up a great defense. I would be worried about confidence moving forward with a young quarterback after the way last week’s game unfolded, and the three interceptions. 

If you look at the Redskins' schedule, they've had some tough opponents early on, including some very good defenses like the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys. The previous games weren’t all like last week when it’s 24-3. Some of these losses have been a bit closer than the final score would suggest. They really should’ve won that first game against the Philadelphia Eagles, for example. The Patriots are another difficult matchup for the Redskins, and a veteran like McCoy, given his familiarity with Gruden's offense, is a good first choice to combat New England's stellar defense. 

Editor's note: Matt Cassel had a 14-year NFL career that included four seasons with the New England Patriots (2005-2008). He's joined the NBC Sports Boston team for this season. You can find him on game days as part of our Pregame Live and Postgame Live coverage, as well as every week on Tom E. Curran’s Patriots Talk podcast and

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