Haskins has 'scary' abilities, but is a 'multi-year project' in one area

Chris Lingebach
May 14, 2019 - 7:26 pm

There are two traits Dwayne Haskins possesses that stand out above all others to Doug Farrar. Both, for very different reasons, leave him wondering about Jay Gruden's thinking.

"One is that he reads defenses, and scans coverages and makes throws against what he sees quickly like an NFL veteran on his second contract," Farrar told Chad Dukes of 106.7 The Fan. "He's one of the most highly developed read throwers – he's not a see it and throw it guy."

"There are guys in the NFL who do not read defenses as well as Dwayne Haskins does," he said. "Which is astonishing because he's basically a one-year starter like Kyler Murray was. And he was throwing 50 touchdowns and eight picks against big boy competition. He gets McLaurin, who he threw I think 10 touchdowns and no interceptions to last year. He's got a good offensive line.

"And the thing about Gruden is he's a structured... he doesn't like a lot of improv. And he would rather – and we've seen this through his career in Cincinnati and the nation's capital – he would rather take the less talented quarterback, who will adhere to his system, than the more talented guy, who will sort of run around outside his structure, because Gruden is all about structure. So, in that regard, Haskins is as perfect a rookie quarterback for Gruden as there could be."

"The part that's the problem," Farrar said, "is Haskins under pressure, and there are some ugly numbers here. By whatever measure you want to use, his efficiency plummeted when he didn't have a clean pocket. And that was pressure from the side that forced him to roll out, which he's really not good at. He's not good at throwing on the run at all."

"This is a major problem in a Gruden system where, from Andy Dalton. He wanted Kirk Cousins to do it. He couldn't quite merge with RG3, but obviously RG3 healthy was great throwing on the run. Through Alex Smith, through whoever. Gruden's always wanted a guy who can roll and reduce the field, hit the easy read and go. Haskins is not that guy."

"Haskins is more of a – and I'm far from comparing him to either one of these players – but just as far as, you know, Tom Brady excels at pocket movement," he continued. "Drew Bledsoe excels at pocket movement. A Nick Foles now, as opposed to when he came in (out of) college, would be more like what Haskins is now, where he can read the field and there's pocket movement, and then there's mobility outside the pocket.

"And Haskins is great at pocket movement. That shows up. But it's interesting that Gruden, who has always wanted mobile, roll-out boot-action quarterbacks not only takes Haskins 15th overall, but says, 'Yeah, he's a big guy and he can bounce off defenders and do all that.'"

"In that way, it's a big switch and kind of a repudiation of everything that Gruden has wanted in quarterbacks before," Farrar said. "Which, I would imagine, tells you what Gruden thinks of his acumen on the chalkboard, in the meeting room and all that. And that part shows up on tape. But Haskins as a quarterback under pressure I think is a multi-year project."

"Compare pocket movement to moving around in a small boxing ring, and trying to avoid punches and land punches at the same time," Farrar explained. "Avoiding punches is avoiding pressure and landing punches is making throws. He's as good in that, say, one-yard by one-yard area as a lot of NFL quarterbacks already.

"Now, like Brady, like Foles, like a Drew Bledsoe, who I've compared him to, the less mobile out-of-the-pocket quarterbacks, he struggles with pressure in his face. And Brady, by the way, is deadly when you try and pressure him to the side, because he'll just move around and kill you. Haskins in the pocket can do that, doesn't always, and he's just a very unstable thrower under pressure."

"So when I say multi-year project," he went on, "this isn't a few mechanical kinks that you can work out. Gruden's gonna have to build him up from like the bottom up. He's gonna have to invent a quarterback in Haskins who is good under pressure, who is good rolling out. Part of that you can do with simple mechanical fixes, and 'these are your three concepts when you roll out,' so he's not overthinking it, so he has a structure and a rhythm. You're trying to invent rhythm outside the pocket with a quarterback who doesn't have any."

Farrar went on to say Gruden will need to take a page from Gary Kubiak's book, in that Kubiak "has always had a really nice ability to create boot-action throwers and develop them and things like that."

"That's kind of what Gruden's gonna have to do," he said. "But again, you go back to Gruden saying things like 'he's a big guy, so he can bounce.'

"I've never heard him say that about any other quarterback. So you have to imagine – I didn't hear his post-draft press or anything – but you have to imagine he's tremendously excited to work with a quarterback that's obviously intelligent. That is in Gruden's wheelhouse, and I guess he figures he can deal with all the other stuff as it comes along."

"It's not about creating a mobile quarterback," he said. "Can you sort of spackle one together? Can you work on his movement efficiency in the offseason and in the preseason? Can you give him pressure concepts? Can you coach him up? Because he's extremely coachable, as I've said."

"For a rookie, for a guy who's never played an NFL down, the extent to which he's able to process things is scary," Farrar said of Haskins. "If your quarterback has the mental acuity to get things done and he's got a few physical dings, I guess you can imagine to figure that out. I've seen big, lumbering quarterbacks who weren't that smart and it just didn't happen, and that's not the case with Haskins.

"I think (Gruden's) just thinking, 'Look. I've got a guy here who can do things... No other quarterback I've had has his arm and his processing speed, except maybe Alex Smith, and I can just figure out the rest.'"

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