Selected with the 15th pick in 2019, Dwayne Haskins, Jr. was seen as the long-term solution at quarterback for Washington. With a prototypical frame and jaw-dropping game film to match, many fans hoped to see Haskins, Jr. make an immediate jump as both a playmaker and leader. Not all went according to plan. Despite winning the starting job in Week 3, inconsistency and questionable decision-making plagued the rookie’s season. That being said, Haskins’ status as a potential franchise signal caller has not yet been diminished.
Starting his sophomore campaign, Haskins will be faced with an all too familiar obstacle: a competition for his own position. Throughout most of his time at Ohio State and even in his first year at Washington, Haskins found he was not the lone option at quarterback. ‘They helped me in several ways,’ Haskins told Redskins.com when asked about the veteran quarterbacks on the Washington depth chart. ‘I respected them as players and as quarterbacks because of what they’ve been through. But at the same time, I’m here to compete. I’m here to earn a starting job.’
The consensus around the organization is that Haskins is their man. This has been voiced by personnel in the front office and even by the newly hired head coach, Ron Rivera. ‘I think he can become a franchise-style quarterback,’ Rivera said to the team’s website. ‘What we’re trying to do right now is develop a plan for his development as we go forward.’
An important component of that plan includes introducing fresh competition by way of Kyle Allen. Allen started 12 games of the regular season for Rivera and the Carolina Panthers in 2019. That season he completed 62 percent of his throws, threw 17 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. While these figures don’t jump off the page, they lean in Allen’s favor when compared to Haskins’ on field production. Allen also benefits from knowing the system both Rivera and new offensive coordinator Scott Turner will be implementing. This familiarity is what poses the biggest challenge to Haskins and his starter status.
While considered to be the better quarterback of the two, Haskins will undoubtedly have to improve upon a rookie season which saw him turn the ball over 9 times in as many games. Most of Haskin’s struggles could be attributed to the mid-season coaching change. The lack of dependable receiving threats outside of Terry McLaurin did not ease his transition to the NFL either. Another factor could be the adjustment to the speed and effectiveness of NFL defenses. Normal issues and certainly par for the course for the majority of rookie quarterbacks. ‘A linebacker can mess up on a cover 2 – he drops the other way – and you throw a touchdown,’ said Haskins when outlining the difference between college and pro defenses. ‘In the NFL, that’s never going to happen. I couldn’t be sloppy with my eyes.’
While the season totals were far from flattering, Haskins showed considerable improvement in his last starts of the season. In those last 2 starts he completed 72 percent of his passes, threw 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Showcasing an ability to stand in the pocket and command an offense as a rookie also helped his standing in the locker room. This ascension was cut short by an ankle injury that would ultimately end his season on Week 16.
Leadership is something this Redskins team needs and something Rivera hopes he can get out of his incumbent second year quarterback. ‘All the great ones have become leaders whether they’re rookies or 10-12 year vets,’ said Rivera. Those leadership qualities may be the most important factor when deciding the starter when all is said and done. Haskins has the advantage as he had a year with most of his teammates. Meanwhile, Allen has had a year with the new coaching staff and the offensive philosophy. This juxtaposition makes the quarterback battle all the more noteworthy.
Kyle Allen will be a tough test for Dwayne Haskins, Jr. but his latent talent and budding leadership qualities should establish him as the day one starter. The experience of last season, mixed with on field struggles, successes, as well as the prior competition he faced on the depth chart should give this offseason new meaning and circumstance to Haskins. Something he surely relishes. ‘I’m just trying to be the best I can be each and every time I step on the field. Whether it is a workout, walkthrough, practice or a game. I want to learn and grow each step of the way.’