Second Look: Dwayne Haskins' play vs. Lions

Ben Krimmel
November 26, 2019 - 10:05 am

While off-field actions have gotten plenty of attention, the on-field performance from Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins has left many worried.

The No. 15 overall pick in the draft got his first win in Sunday against the Detroit Lions, but the QB didn't leave many enthused. 

The numbers were less than ideal: Just 13 completions on 29 passes for 156 yards (a paltry 5.4 yards per attempt), no touchdowns and two turnovers (a fumble and a pick). Haskins finished with a QBR of 28.3 and a rating of 47.5. (Meanwhile, Steven Sims, who threw one incompletion on a gadget play, finished with a rating of 39.6.)

And Haskins' performance in just his third NFL start is a real Rorschach test: Do you see a QB just not making accurate throws, but making the right decision? Or a young QB who is in over his head and still learning on the job? 

There is plenty of support for both options and that's OK for a rookie passer.

"He overthrew a few, and we had some receivers that were open, and I think he might have overloaded or his arm might have been too strong at times," interim head coach Bill Callahan said. "But I think we can all see the talent that he has, and I’m speaking of arm talent and his ability to connect downfield, intermediate, deep."

The film shows a lot of what Callahan said. In the red zone, Haskins could hit Steven Sims quickly in the flat, but turns to find Terry McLaurin open in end zone. However, the throw let him down. 

And Haskins struggled getting the ball to his former Ohio State teammate all game. And that's annoying for Redskins fans. Here McLaurin beats the corner, draws the safety over the top, but is open down the field. The pass let Haskins down.

Late 4th quarter, Haskins has McLaurin open for the go-ahead touchdown but overthrows him. 

And while Haskins is the focus, McLaurin deserves special mention for hitting the ground running and has turned into a super find in the third round of the draft. The matchup against Lions corner Darius Slay was a particually tight battle.

Haskins targeted McLaurin 12 during Week 12 and he finished with 72 yards on five catches. One aspect that doesn't help the young quarterback: The Redskins do not have a tight end who can help in the passing game. Jeremy Sprinkle was targeted twice and had one catch. 

"My philosophy going into that game was to never underthrow Terry because of how good the corner (Slay) was," Haskins said. "I placed the ball pretty good so if I was going to miss, I was going to miss deep and out wide so (Slay) wouldn’t have the opportunity to put his hands on the ball. We talked about it, I missed him and we could have connected on some of those. But he still had five catches for 72 yards, and he makes great plays, makes uncontested catches. He does not care who is guarding him, he is going to win, so that’s why I’m proud of him.”

And then there was the 4th quarter interception: Not good placement on the pass.

However, there are were some good plays from Haskins. While not a runner by any stretch of the imagination, the young quarterback does well to slide in the pocket away from pressure and use his legs to convert on third down in the first quarter.

Here is a long completion on a third down early in the game.

And from the Lions' 38-yard line on third-and-5, Haskins did very well to climb the pocket and deliever a 17-yard gain to set up Dustin Hopkins' game-winning field goal.

After the game, it truly meant a lot: A celebration with offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell, before one with the fans.

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