Dwayne Haskins brings peace of mind at QB in rookie season

Chris Lingebach
December 29, 2019 - 11:33 am

Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins has left Redskins fans a gift, a chewy morsel of promise as he heads into his first NFL offseason a week early.

The 15th overall pick won't play in Sunday's season finale against Dallas, a precautionary measure after leaving last week's game with an ankle injury in the second half. For the first time in more than a decade, fans can carry some semblance of peace about the quarterback position into January.

This offseason will require no costly draft pick acquisitions or messy contract entanglements, no fly-by-night trades that ship valuable player assets to Kansas City for an, at best, expiring veteran. Redskins fans now know who their quarterback is, and that he at least has potential they can support with visual evidence.

It was in that 41-35 loss to the Giants last week where Haskins delivered more than just promise, but actual, tangible proof – after knocking on the door for several weeks – that he can perform at a starting caliber NFL level. He ripped off two touchdowns on 12-of-15 passing (80%) for 133 yards and a 143.2 passer rating before being lifted from the game. Albeit this came against a below-average pass defense, but you can only play the opponent in front of you.

Perhaps more intriguing, dating back to Washington's surprise 29-21 victory over Carolina in Week 13, Haskins has demonstrated, above all else, he can protect the football, throwing just one interception and losing one fumble in the past four games. That's something an offensive coordinator can work with.

"I wouldn't say (I'm) too much surprised," Redskins running back Chris Thompson told The Sports Junkies during his weekly appearance, presented by Steamfitters UA Local 602

"You know I always, just being around him from day one, I just knew it was a matter of time that he was going to keep getting better and better, and I knew at some point he would get to this level of play right now," he said. "And I think for him, I think he's gonna continue to even get better."

"But moving on in the future, he's definitely going to be even better than what he's shown these last few games and it's exciting to see," Thompson went on to say. "And I know for the fans and everybody, it's something to definitely be excited for for him and his future, and having the young playmakers he's had – three starting rookie receivers – these last few games and almost pretty much the whole second half of the season, and they've all just meshed well and been able to make some big plays."

Haskins' injury against New York – a high ankle sprain – caused team owner Dan Snyder to dial up a play from a past life, intervening with a trip down to the medical room, where he instructed Haskins to heed the team physician's advice, which was to no go back out onto the field.

"In your seven years, how often have you seen Dan in the middle of a game?" Thompson was asked.

"I didn't even see him that time, but if I was to say, I maybe would say my first," he replied. "I remember when I hurt my ankle. Well, I guess second time, because when I had my ankle injury, he came out and like he made sure I was taken care of and I was fine and stuff like that.

"But, I mean, Haskins is the guy – he's the guy of the future – so it would make sense to me that he would go down and talk to him and tell him to be smart," Thompson said. "That's the biggest thing. He's a competitive guy, so he's going to try to go out there and go back in the game, of course.

"But that's the smart thing to do right now, I think, in my opinion, is for him to just sit back and chill. Because I sat beside him and he was like, 'Man, I'm trying to go back in. I want to go back in.' And I was like, 'Nah, bro. You gotta chill out. Let Case take it. Just chill out. Be smart.'"

Redskins fans' low regard for Snyder is well-documented, with the bar lowering further and further seemingly every year. But the players themselves appear to hold the owner in a much higher regard. In his public rebuke of the organization this November, Trent Williams went out of his way to spare Snyder of any criticism.

Asked why players love Snyder so much, Thompson said, "I think for me personally, he really does care about us. No guys have ever had any bad experience with him. Like every time I see him, he talks to me, he speaks to me, makes sure, like, he asks me am I okay, am I feeling good – blah, blah, blah or whatever.

"But, shoot. I mean, y'all don't know, but before the (Giants) game, like I'm still sick – I don't know if you can hear it in my voice – but I was feeling terrible yesterday, and he came in the locker room and was like, 'I heard you're sick. What do you need?' Like, 'Do we need to get you something to be able to get you through this game?' And he was talking to the doctors and everything. It's stuff like that that's behind the scenes that nobody sees, and that's why guys like Trent speak up for him."

"Even when I had my ankle surgery, he let me use his jet to go and get my surgery, go back and forth," Thompson said. "Me and my girlfriend were on it. You know, it's little like small things like that, that I don't think happens all the time, but he really, truly does care about us and I think that's why guys never have anything bad to say about him."