After best start yet, Haskins' day comes to screeching halt

Craig Hoffman
December 22, 2019 - 7:59 pm

Dwayne Haskins started Sunday's game as well as a quarterback can. It ended with him on a cart and an ankle injury that could cut his rookie season short.

He wanted to return to the game, like he did against Green Bay just two weeks earlier, but was told no by the one man he couldn't argue with: Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

"I tried to go back in, but he wouldn't let me," Haskins said at the podium afterward, donning a walking boot on the injured left ankle. "It's an ankle. It'll be alright."

"I evaluated Dwayne following his ankle injury and after reviewing the X-Rays and conducting a full examination, I did not clear him to return to game action," said Redskins team physician, Dr. Robin West.

Snyder was backing up West, as the owner himself clarified via team PR. He was not making a medical decision, but enforcing one. He was doing it with a quarterback he all but personally selected in April's draft and had finally seen turn a corner.

"It happened last week versus the Eagles. That first completion. Once that first completion starts and we're finding ways to manipulate the defense, and knowing what they're doing and calling great plays and me just trusting what the coach calls…" Haskins said before trailing off, speaking of the game finally clicking for him. "It can't just be one thing I can tell you as the reason why I started off the way I started off. Just know when I get into a rhythm, I'm pretty hard to stop."

Haskins was as hot as a quarterback could be to start the game. He was 10-for-10 passing with two touchdowns before a ball ever hit the ground. Overall, he was 12-for-15 for 133 yards and two touchdowns in the first half before getting injured on the first play of the second. It was his best performance as a pro.

"Sure, but like," said Haskins pausing, in search of the right wording, "that's normal. That's what I want to do every game. So I mean, I did it in college – and I know college is not the NFL and the NFL is a much tougher game, but I was just getting into a rhythm and when I get hot, I get hot. I just looking forward to keep doing that."

While Haskins shined, he was outdone by his rookie counterpart, who had a career day by any standard. Daniel Jones sliced the Redskins defense for 352 yards and five touchdowns, including the game-winner to tight end Kaden Smith.

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The Giants were able to create confusion in a Redskins secondary that was down to cornerback Danny Johnson as the only corner playing who had previously started for Washington, and he left the game in the first half. They beat the Redskins in man and they beat them in zone. They beat them in single-high looks and they beat them in two-safety variations.

They beat them with simple schemes and smart decisions. They beat them with ingenious designs, maximizing the ability of running back Saquon Barkley, who finished with 279 total yards on 26 total touches. That's 10.7 yards per touch, two of which went for scores.

The Redskins defense had played well in the middle of the season, but has faltered the past two weeks as the offense has taken a step forward. This was the Redskins' highest point output of the season. They lost 41-35 anyway.

"It's a tough game," safety Landon Collins said. "We fought hard on both sides. Gave it our best shots. They had us kind of figured out in the first half. We had to figure ourselves out and make better plays on the defensive side. Our offense put us in the game and we're very proud of that."

Of course, losing is a relative term. Washington "pulled ahead" of New York in the race for the second overall draft pick and currently sits in that spot thanks to the Dolphins' walk-off win over the Bengals. Cincinnati has locked up the number one overall pick.

If the Redskins lose next week in Dallas, they will remain in that spot, as they are a half game "ahead" of Detroit. If they win, there are a number of scenarios in play.

The prevailing thought is that the Redskins would draft a Heisman finalist who hails from the DMV and played collegiately at Ohio State for the second straight year in OLB Chase Young. Young is thought to be a generational pass rusher. He is the exact type of player the Redskins could have used Sunday when getting next to no pressure on Jones all day.

In a game where "winning" lived in an incredibly gray area, one thing is for sure: Haskins' long-term health is the focus. Ensuring he is healthy going into a critical offseason is paramount for this franchise.

He wants to play, and was emphatic in saying so after the game. If he's healthy, there's no reason he shouldn't. He needs the reps and has proven how important experience is. However, it's clear that from ownership down, the Redskins are being cautious, as there has already been plenty lost this season.

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Craig Hoffman is the Redskins beat reporter for 106.7 The Fan. His post-game columns are powered by Dell EMC and TVAR Solutions – transforming the federal data center.