At this level, Haskins has to speed it up in the pocket

Brian Tinsman
August 16, 2019 - 9:58 am

If all goes well, the Washington Redskins are at least several regular-season games away from needing rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins on the field.

During his time on the bench, he has to recalibrate his internal clock. Several times against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night, he got caught inside of a collapsing pocket.

One killed a drive as he lost his first NFL fumble, giving the Bengals prime field position. Another killed a 4th quarter drive as he took an unnecessary sack that forced a punt. Still other times, he takes hits that might be avoidable.

This contributed to the Bengals controlling the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game, finishing with nearly 37 minutes of time of possession.

A lack of pocket awareness is a common problem for young quarterbacks, who often come from college programs with superior surrounding talent. Receivers in college that are better than defenders, which helps quarterbacks get the ball out. Linemen that are better than rushers, which helps buy time for pocket passers like Haskins.

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He just may not have that luxury in Washington, where both his receiver corps and linemen are a work in progress.

This is especially true if Trent Williams follows through on threats to skip regular-season games. Despite his age and recent history of injuries, Williams is the best insurance policy on Haskins’ blindside. Without him, that left tackle role likely falls to Geron Christian or Donald Penn.

That’s a storyline no matter who is under center.

To be fair, Haskins hasn’t yet run Jay Gruden’s scheme or run with the first-string offense in a game. He hasn’t had Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses protecting him, or Chris Thompson and Jordan Reed as outlet receivers. That supporting cast can buy him time and make reads much easier.

A common refrain in the press box is that it’s the preseason for everyone. Even without marquee talent around him, Haskins performed well in his Washington debut, cleaning up the interceptions from a week ago and throwing his first NFL touchdown.

If this trend continues, look for Haskins to continue piling up the preseason minutes as the coaching staff gauges how much time he needs to be ready.

As long as the game continues to speed up for him, Haskins will be a welcome addition to the starting lineup when the time comes.

Brian Tinsman has covered D.C. sports since 2011, both from the team marketing and skeptical fan perspectives. Tweet your criticisms @Brian_Tinsman.