The Washington Redskins announced today that rookie QB Dwayne Haskins is now set as the starter for the rest of the season. Haskins who made his first start versus the Bills prior to the bye week, was being prepared as the starter, but no official announcement had been made. Though it’s odd it the team didn’t make it official a week ago, this is clearly the right move for the franchise as they need to get a full evaluation of their 1st round pick.
Dwayne Haskins had made two prior appearances before his start versus the Bills, and both were pretty poor performances. His game versus Buffalo didn’t set the league on fire, but he showed a lot more confidence and poise in the pocket. Haskins looked considerably better when he had some practice reps and the team built a game plan around him. In a tough road game, versus one of the league’s best defenses Haskins held his own. It was clearly a scaled back game plan for the rookie, but Haskins completed 68% of his passes and avoided throwing an interception. It was a solid building block for the quarterback, and now the team is giving him the proper preparation to grow from there.
Some fans have been inpatient with why Haskins hasn’t been starting already or have taken his lack of production that he’s some sort of 1st round bust, but that isn’t a fair assessment. Haskins all along was going to be a developmental quarterback, even more so than some other recent rookies. With only 14 starts on his college resume, Haskins was not going to jump into the NFL without any issues. He also benefited at Ohio State from a massive talent gap between the Buckeyes and just about any other team they played. Haskins rarely had to play from behind, or bounce back from a turnover. Playing on a Washington Redskins offense that is devoid of talent, would have been an adjustment for any rookie QB.
Haskins has the tools to be a very good quarterback in this league. It might take longer to showcase his upside, but the potential is real. Dwayne Haskins has the arm talent and ball placement you want in a quarterback. He showed advanced skills in college like looking off safeties and making pre-snap reads. Once he picks up the NFL game he can do similar things at this level, it will just take time. Haskins’ outlook has not changed, and fans and the Redskins should have patience and let him develop.
It’s worth noting that many recent first round quarterbacks such as Jared Goff, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, etc. had very poor rookie seasons. Now those same QBs are bringing back massive value to their respective clubs. Even other rookies like DeShaun Watson and Carson Wentz were below average their first season, before becoming top level starters. Developing a quarterback can take time. Many want to compare Haskins to fellow rookie Daniel Jones, but that is a bit unfair.
Jones has made 8 starts and in 3 of those games he’s put up big numbers (Bucs, Lions, Jets). The other 5 games his production has been pretty bad. In his three good games, Jones has 10 TDs to 0 INTs, with 966 yards (66% completion rate and 8.26 YPA). Compared to his other games where he has 5 TDs versus 8 INTs. Jones has just 1,001 yards, 60.3% completion rate and a 5.69 YPA. He has also taken 32 sacks in these 8 games, leading to 13 fumbles. Jones has shown flashes and very well could develop into a good QB, but the idea that he is “legit” and Haskins is a “bust” is extremely suspect.
Expectations for Haskins the rest of this season should be tempered. His surrounding cast is extremely suspect. The offensive line has been okay considering the injuries and Trent Williams holdout, but still below average. Adrian Peterson has been a nice band-aid at running back and hopefully Guice can help as well, but this is not a strong position group. Without Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis, the Redskins TE production has been embarrassing. Terry McLaurin has been a bright spot at WR, but the rest of the position group has been a bust.
In addition to the weak supporting cast, Haskins also won’t have much support from the offensive play calling. Bill Callahan is instituting a very run first, slow game plan. Against the Bills the Redskins had just 49 offensive snaps. For comparison Daniel Jones has thrown the ball 40+ times each of the past three weeks. Even if Haskins has a really good game, it will be tough to throw for 300 yards if you only have 25 or fewer pass attempts. Ideally the offense will open up some, but it’s unclear if that is the direction Callahan goes.
Instead of focusing on total yards and touchdowns, the focus should be more on his rate stats like completion percentage, yards per attempt and TD to INT ratio (among many others. Going beyond the box score, looking at Haskins decision making in situations and ball placement can be key indicators of future success. The numbers might not be eye popping, but sticking with him as a starter the rest of the season is the best way for Dwayne Haskins to become the Redskins franchise quarterback.