How did Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins grow in Week 11?
By Ian Cummings
Poise and Toughness
Poise and toughness, or lack thereof, can be a big roadblock for young quarterbacks. If a young quarterback shrinks against the pace and physicality of NFL adversity, added reps can be detrimental to his development. If a quarterback isn’t tough and willing to stand in the pocket and deliver, it not only undermines his trust in his supporting cast, but it forces him to speed up his process recklessly. This leads to the development of bad habits, such as diluted processing, skittish impulsiveness, questionable decision making, and ultimately, volatile production.
This is one thing Haskins certainly doesn’t have to worry about. He’s still growing more comfortable with pressure, but in the Jets game, he showcased a level of resilience and affinity not yet seen in his NFL career. The Draft Network’s Jordan Reid made note of this, saying that Haskins’ performance is “a sign of a QB who isn’t overwhelmed by it”.
In the first clip, Haskins is quickly met by pressure from two directions as he completes the play action fake. From the left, a slot cornerback closes in on Haskins’ position, and from the right, an edge rusher speeds toward Haskins, with a cushion between him and Morgan Moses.
Both Moses and Adrian Peterson do a good job of staving off the rushers at the last second, but the pocket is condensed as a result. Haskins feels this as soon as he completes his drop back, and rather than panicking, he seamlessly steps up into a lane between Peterson and Donald Penn, keeping his eyes upfield. Now aware that he is no longer protected by the confines of the pocket, he rolls out to the left to buy himself some time and delivers a pinpoint deep pass to Terry McLaurin off-platform.
This play was called back because of a holding penalty, but it might be the best example of Haskins’ potential. The second clip is similar; Haskins feels the pressure early, and he confidently steps forward into a lane before delivering a dart to Kelvin Harmon in the middle of the field, while being hit. In the third clip, Haskins feels pressure to the right, steps forward and tucks the ball inside to prevent a strip. He then rolls out and hits his check down option for a short gain.
Haskins doesn’t make these throws against Minnesota in Week 8. With each rep, he grows more comfortable with the pace of the NFL. And as his comfort level increases, so too does the fluidity of his game. He can still work to keep his eyes further upfield as he rolls out, and he needs to be more decisive under duress at times, to avoid costly sacks. But he has the first step down; he’s tough and composed in the face of pressure, and as the game continues to slow down for him, he should start to go on the offensive in these circumstances more and more. The pressure won’t be what ruins him, as it has been to other young quarterbacks.