Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a huge opportunity in front of him. Down a touchdown heading into the second half, the former Ohio State star was told that he would be running the offense from here on out. Case Keenum had been , and the NFL world was about to find out what the No. 15 overall pick in this year's draft was capable of.
Haskins had only seen time in one other game, the Redskins' Week 4 loss to the New York Giants. Keenum was struggling, so in came Haskins. His first game went just as bad as it could have, however. He completed just 9 of 17 passes for 107 yards and threw three interceptions. The outing was enough to push back fans from calling for Haskins for a few games, but as the losses began to pile up and with head coach Jay Gruden now gone, the movement again picked up steam.
Unfortunately, Haskins' performance under the Thursday night lights was not unlike his first outing. In all, he completed just 3 of his 5 passing attempts, and he threw for 33 yards and an interception -- a critical turnover as Washington drove the field looking to grab momentum. As a result, the Vikings cruised to a 19-9 win.
Dwayne Haskins had a chance to lead the Redskins on an epic comeback upset victory over the Vikings, but he struggled again, and now Washington has an interesting quarterback situation brewing? Ryan Wilson, John Breech and Sean Wagner-McGough joined Will Brinson to break everything down from Thursday Night Football and more. Listen in the player below, and be sure to subscribe here for daily NFL goodness.
After the game, interim head coach Bill Callahan didn't seem too depressed about Haskins' performance. He understands that it's a learning process, and he wants fans to be able to grasp that truth as well.
"It's a growing process with any young quarterback that comes in the league," said Callahan. "I think that all the quarterbacks that I can recall -- I look at Troy Aikman when he was young and what he went through and Peyton (Manning), what he went through when he was a rookie. So those are growing pains and you can't pinpoint one specific thing. It's just a whole experience and there's something new every day that's going to come up for a rookie quarterback. The game is pretty complex, and we just try to simplify and give him plays that he's comfortable with."
I find it interesting that Callahan limits the playbook when Haskins takes the field. While this is a practice that many NFL teams have when a rookie quarterback is playing in his first few games, it can limit where a quarterback is looking and keep him from taking chances. However, a quick look around the NFL shows multiple rookie quarterbacks who aren't having their playsheet limited by their head coaches, including Daniel Jones and Kyler Murray, the two quarterbacks selected in the first round before Haskins.
On Haskins' first drive, the Redskins ran a fake toss on second down, which resulted in a six-yard catch made by tight end Jeremy Sprinkle. The misdirection worked, and Haskins found himself in the open field for a moment. His eyes never drifted from Sprinkle in the flat, who was clearly the primary receiver. It appeared as though Haskins had his college teammate, Terry McLaurin, open down the sideline, but Haskins didn't stray from the script.
The next drive, Haskins made a good throw -- one that left "Thursday Night Football" viewers wondering how the rookie completed it. On the first play of his second drive, Haskins dropped back, saw no one open and checked it down to Adrian Peterson. Linebacker Eric Kendricks was closing in fast before Haskins threw the ball, but he was able to sling it into the arms of Peterson, who then took it 21 yards up the field.
It was an example of the velocity Haskins can put on the football, and an example of how he makes decisions. While this wasn't a risky throw down the field, it was a risky throw nonetheless.
Haskins only attempted to throw the ball to his wide receivers twice and one was a bad overthrow that was intercepted. The rookie quarterback had McLaurin open on a slant, but sailed it just over his teammate's fingertips and into the hands of safety Anthony Harris. It was a play that destroyed momentum and signaled to everyone late in the third quarter that the Redskins probably weren't going to come back and win this game.
While Haskins made just three completions and registered a bad interception, Peterson was impressed with the poise the rookie showed when stepping in during a primetime game.
"I thought he came in in the heat of the moment and handled himself well," said Peterson. "Of course there's some things that we all could have done better, but I didn't see him rattled at all to be honest with you -- when I looked in his eyes. He just needs to continue to do a good job of getting better. I think he did a good job coming into the heat of the battle."
While Haskins didn't exactly prove that he's the future of the franchise in his first two games, it needs to be understood that this is a process. All reports coming out of Redskins Park from June until now have indicated that he's a project, he's raw. If we learned anything from Thursday night, it's that those rumors are true.
Coach Callahan didn't change his tune after this outing, anddue to his concussion.
Haskins is clearly not the best quarterback on roster at this point, and that's OK. At least he's getting game reps and continuing to learn under his coaches, who are convinced he can become something special.