Redskins Positional Outlook: Quarterbacks
It was a year to forget when it comes to quarterback production last year as the Redskins finished in the bottom half or third in basically every major passing statistic, including tied for dead last in the important net yards per attempt. Even more concerning is that Case Keenum helped the “curve” with his strong start under former coach Jay Gruden. If you take the Redskins production in the final 12 weeks, it would be at or near the bottom in many categories. Poor offensive line play and a lack of playmakers was a contributing cause to their problems, but overall the quarterbacks did not play well last season.
It wasn’t all bad news as 1st round rookie Dwayne Haskins did play better in over his final 3 games. His overall numbers look really bad, but that is mainly due to his production earlier in the season. His last couple games weren’t “great”, but they were more in line of what you’d expect of a rookie.
Starter: Dwayne Haskins
-Haskins was a high upside developmental QB from the start, as he only had 14 career college starts. Haskins was brilliant during his time in college, but he clearly needed more time. The Redskins tried to give him that time, but unfortunately they didn’t have the supporting cast needed to ease him in. Outside of fellow rookie (and college teammate) Terry McLaurin, the Redskins didn’t have a pass catching RB, TE or WR who they could rely on this past season. Add in the woes of the offensive line, and Haskins didn’t have much of a chance to develop. Haskins also didn’t get much of a chance to shine in Bill Callahan’s low volume passing offense. While it limited his mistakes, it also limited his ability to reach his potential.
Despite the poor supporting cast and the fact that Haskins was raw to begin with, he did show positive growth as the season wore on. Haskins remains a high-upside quarterback with elite arm talent and the ability to throw with anticipation. When he gets in rhythm, he displays really good touch. If the Redskins can add the pieces around him, Haskins could quickly show why he was a first round pick. The Redskins can still expect some growing pains from Haskins, but the upside is there and the new coaching staff should build a game plan to develop him.
-Last year’s back-ups Case Keenum and Colt McCoy are both unrestricted free agents and seem unlikely to return. While Haskins looks set as the starter, the Redskins could use a solid veteran to back him up. Not only could they help Haskins development, but they would provide valuable insurance in case he went down with injury. The Redskins shouldn’t spend a lot of money on the position, but should look to target someone with some previous starting experience who is okay coming in as a mentor role.
What is more unknown is whether the Redskins target a young QB late in the draft for a cheap 3rd option. While it shouldn’t be considered a threat to Haskins position, having a cheap 3rd QB has some value. With a pair of 7th round picks, the Redskins could see if there is someone worth drafting to round out their roster.
Wildcard: Alex Smith
-Smith remains a valuable mentor to Dwayne Haskins, and a veteran leader on a young team. While Smith is saying he wants to get back on the field and the coaching staff hasn’t dismissed the idea, it seems unlikely he will be back this year for any meaningful part of the season. Perhaps late in the season Smith would try taking the field, but hopefully by then Haskins is firmly in place as the starter. Smith though would have made an amazing personal accomplishment by coming back from the horrific injury he suffered.