Haskins acknowledged during the week that Sunday would likely be his last chance to stick with the team beyond this year, particularly after being photographed maskless at a birthday party for his girlfriend. His benching against the Panthers would appear to remove any doubt.
The hope in Washington is that Alex Smith will be healthy enough to play in the finale after missing the past two games with a strained calf. Rivera said the team held out hope as late as Friday, but on Saturday morning Smith “wasn’t feeling it,” according to Rivera.
The chances of returning to Haskins if Smith is unavailable would seem to be slim to none, with slim having left the stadium. Rivera appeared to signal on the postgame virtual call that his patience has run out. Conversely, he used words and phrases like “gutsy … outstanding … great vision … gave us a chance to win” when discussing Heinicke.
Meantime, the Eagles likely feel good about their QB situation with rookie Jalen Hurts, who has played well since replacing starter Carson Wentz several weeks ago. His ability to make plays has breathed life back into the franchise, so much so that Philadelphia could have set up a winner-take-all game against Washington had it beaten Dallas on Sunday. However it squandered an early 11-point lead and lost, 37-17.
The best the Eagles can do now is play spoiler, although Hurts is still seeking to lock up front-runner status for the starting job in 2021 after throwing for 342 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 69 yards against the Cowboys, although his three turnovers were an issue.
Dallas (6-9) has won three in a row after failing to post consecutive wins all season. Each has come against a backup quarterback — although Hurts was a significant upgrade over Wentz — and while that won’t be the case on Sunday against the Giants (5-10), barring an unforeseen setback with Daniel Jones, the Cowboys will be matched against an offense that has not scored more than 19 points in its last five games and has a total of just five touchdowns during that period.
But if we’ve learned one thing this season, it’s to expect the unexpected in the NFC East. Mercifully, though, the spinning top will come to a stop next weekend.