Surreal feeling for Haskins, preparing for first home start

Craig Hoffman
November 13, 2019 - 4:34 pm
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Dwayne Haskins stepped to the podium in Ashburn for the first time as the Redskins starting quarterback Wednesday.

"(I've) worked really hard to get to this point," said the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. "And even more work has to be done to continue to go forward."

Haskins started against the Bills, but as an injury replacement for Case Keenum (concussion). It's his show now and the Redskins can start building around him for the long term. "I feel like that can help as far as the comradery with the team and the offense gravitating around me," Haskins said. "And allowing me to lead and trying to get guys to follow me. So, I feel like it can help a lot."

Haskins will be leading a group of veterans, something he had to do in his one year at Ohio State. 

"It's a growing process. You can ask (WR) Terry (McLaurin). Last year, Terry was a fifth-year senior when I was in school and I was a redshirt sophomore," the quarterback said of his only year starting in Columbus. "So of course for me it was always having to get older guys to respect me and being able to get older guys to know that he's young, but he's still going to lead us. That's just a process – that's earning trust, that's spending extra time in the film room, spending extra time in the weight room, spending time before practice and after practice so that they can see I'm taking it serious and working on my craft. That's something that I take very much pride in and I'm hoping that starts translating with the guys in the locker room."

It's also something that matters in the huddle with his teammates, and something he already feels like is getting better with the experience he's had. "I just felt like as the game went on, the more reps I got, the more rhythm I got with my eyes and my feet and being able to look guys in the huddle and tell an All-Pro Brandon Scherff what the play is and have some authority behind it meant a lot for me," he said in response to a question about his comfort level. "The more that I got to do that, the more confident I was in being able to motivate the guys that are around me and finding out ways where I can push the ones that are in the huddle with me and the more games, the more plays I get, I feel like I'll continue to get better at that."

Haskins has also earned the trust of his coaches, in particular offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell and interim head coach Bill Callahan. The rookie has spent every moment the coordinator can spare with him over the last few weeks in preparation for this eventuality. 

"I just think those meetings are really beneficial as far being on the same page with Kevin because he calls the plays," Haskins said when asked about them. "Being able to know what he thinks and what he wants out of a play and being on the same page with him makes it easier in the play to know Kevin talked about this, look for this in this play and know that we're on the same page, so that when he calls a play he knows that I won't mess it up. So that's the main thing."

Haskins had to laugh at the end of that answer, knowing for much of the year merely spitting out the plays was a challenge, nevertheless knowing what his coaches wanted and being able to execute them. It's why he went to Callahan after the Vikings loss and asked what he could do to get better.

"Just accountability," he said when asked what compelled him to walk into his head coach's office the Saturday after the Thursday night loss. "After that second loss, I never want to feel that feeling in my stomach again. I got with Bill and I told him what I needed to tell him, and he took it and he gave me everything he can – he gave me all the tools, videos, notes from all the time he spent in the NFL. He's been really great just trying to help me out."

Haskins second career start will be his first at home. It comes against a 2-7 Jets team that beat fellow rookie Daniel Jones and the Giants last week. He described the Jets defense as "very good" and "very active," but that hasn't killed his enthusiasm to play at FedEx Field.

"I'm really excited about it. I remember in high school I used to go over to the stadium and watch them play – well now I'm on the team – watching the Redskins play. So, of course, being able to play at home and being from this area means a lot more to me than it would for another guy. So, just being able to play in front of my family, play in front of the fans that've been watching me since I was 15 years old, means a lot to me. I just want to be able to go out there, go one play at a time and hopefully get a W."

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