Gruden: Haskins 'deserves a shot, without a doubt' to start

Ben Krimmel
June 15, 2019 - 3:44 pm
Jay Gruden says Dwayne Haskins has a shot to start for Redskins.

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Dwayne Haskins is far from a finished article. However, that doesn't mean he has been counted out from being named the Washington Redskins starting quarterback.

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"Oh, for sure," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said when asked if Haskins is under consideration.

"I'd be silly not to. He's put enough out there on tape to say he deserves a shot, without a doubt," he said this week. "I don't know quite what he can do in the NFL in this system because it's new to him, but his ability warrants the fact that, hey, let's take a peek at this big son of a b----." 

While Haskins said earlier this week he doesn't "really worry about starting Week 1" the chance for the 21-year-old youngster is there. 

"You see the 'wow' plays and you're like, 'Jesus,'" Gruden said. "When he's on, there's nobody you'd rather have than Dwayne. Really. It's pretty. He stands tall, he has a cannon, and he can quicken up his release. He's got great touch. Strong, powerful arm. Strong, powerful body. But sometimes when he's off, he's abnormally off. It's kind of weird."

"Dwayne is the wild card," he added.

Haskins' arm strength has drawn a lot of praise this offseason with Vernon Davis calling it "one of the strongest arms I've ever seen."

"The kid can spin it, man," Davis told The Sports Junkies. "He can throw, he can really throw. When you watch him throw the velocity on the ball... Sometimes when (guys) throw, the ball can, it starts to, I want to say, descends a little bit. But when (Haskins) throws it's on a straight line consistently. It's just amazing to see him throw the ball."

"He's already earned the respect of a lot of people around here," Gruden said of Haskins. "They're excited because they've seen bits and pieces of the potential. He's seeking information; he's attentive in meeting rooms. He has a ways to go mentally. We're throwing a lot of formations at him and it's all new to him. We'll see how he takes this period and how it transfers to when it comes back and how much he retains. That's going to be the key."

However, there are somethings the Skins head coach said his young QB needs to improve.

"The most important thing is to quicken his reads so he can reset his feet and get them underneath him to make accurate throws. That comes with time," Gruden said. "Sometimes, he's in such a hurry that he might be late and then he feels he has to rush."

"Dwayne may not quite be there yet," he said. "That's not something we know, yet. I hope that's not the case. He didn't make many mistakes at Ohio State in the year he played. That's something we have to play out."

And Haskins acknowledges the steep learning curve he faces. 

"In the NFL, defensive backs are faster," Haskins said. "In college, you might get away with some throws where I don't bring my legs with me, and some plays now if I don't get my legs underneath me it could be batted down or a pick. I know I have a strong arm, and sometimes I get to where I want to throw with my arm and not bring my legs. It's just being conscious where my body is at in the pocket."

"I want to be really, really good, and right now, I'm good sometimes. And that's frustrating because I want to play like Tom Brady. I want to play like Drew Brees," he added. "This is only my fourth week in camp and that's not going to be possible."

Former Redskins executive and NFL analyst Louis Riddick praised Haskins football intellect earlier this offseason, saying it was something that jumped out to him.

"You can recognize that kind of thing in a quarterback just based on the decisions that he makes on the football field in crucial situations, the ability to recognize front, coverage, put the ball where it needs to be put from a decision-making process," Riddick said on John Keim's podcast.

His new head coach echoed some of that praise.

"He can just see the whole field extremely well," Gruden said. "For a young quarterback, a lot of times when there are rushers they have a tendency to look down. He has a natural ability to keep his eyes up and down the field. It's like a video game where he can see and make all the throws. There's a lot to like about him, and there's a lot to clean up, as we would expect. But he's been impressive.

"The comfort level he has to continue to get. When he calls a play and knows exactly what we're trying to do, or when I start to call a formation, he knows what play is coming. That will come with time, lots and lots of time."

Alas, time is all relative. In June, football season seems like it is ages away, just like the distance between an open receiver and a defensive back. But for a rookie quarterback, that time (and the defensive back) moves a lot faster than expected

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