Dwayne Haskins will get his chance with Ron Rivera’s Redskins. That much, at this point, is certain.
Interestingly enough, there was never much doubt that the Washington Redskins‘ 2019 first-round pick would get a fair shot, in spite of the regime change. The factors that went into cultivating this strange aura of confidence vary. The vocal support from Rivera helps, as well as the new coach’s honesty about the value of competition. Haskins’ performance down the stretch in 2019, however, is ultimately what led to him earning more time. Haskins showed tangible growth late in 2019, proving that there is something there to develop.
The raw stats aren’t so forgiving in a vacuum, although once one separates Haskins’ spot-duty stats and his stats as a starter, the discrepancy becomes clear. Once Haskins was given the top job over Case Keenum, he went 107 for 181, amassing 1,225 yards, seven touchdowns, and three interceptions. The indications of progress are not an illusion; Haskins underwent growth as time went on, and the advanced stats tell a similar story.
USA Today’s Steven Ruiz recently wrote an article ranking the five 2019 rookie signal callers who received substantial playing time. Haskins came in second in Ruiz’s rankings, and Ruiz summed up his evaluation of the Redskins signal caller by saying that “Haskins is the one player [besides Kyler Murray] who has a legitimate shot at developing into a star quarterback”.
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Ruiz cited ball placement and turnover avoidance down the stretch as reasons to place Haskins over Drew Lock and Daniel Jones. This excerpt from Ruiz’s piece, delving into some of the advanced stats that measure quarterback performance, does well to encapsulate his thoughts:
Haskins had the biggest gap between Total Points per attempt — Sports Info Solutions’ proprietary stat that takes EPA (Estimated Points Added) and adjusts it based on a player’s individual contribution to a play — and EPA per attempt in the league. He led the rookie class in total points per attempt by a wide margin on clean pocket throws that traveled past the line of scrimmage.
Haskins was consistently forced to throw into tight windows but still avoided turnover-worthy plays at an elite rate, finishing with the fifth-lowest percentage according to PFF despite finishing second in Next Gen Stats’ aggressive throw percentage, which is the rate at which he threw to a receiver with less than a yard of separation. That’s where Haskins’ ball placement really helped.
Haskins’ ball placement was one quality that stood out on his college film, and as he grew more comfortable in the Redskins’ offense last year, he was able to further maximize that part of his game. One can reasonably assume that as the Redskins continue to make improvements to their offensive supporting cast, Haskins should be able to keep growing in that area.
The future of Haskins was never truly in question this offseason, and it’s easy to see why. Haskins will need to compound the growth he showed last season, and prove to Rivera that he’s an investment worth keeping. But if Haskins’ growth in an unstable situation is any indication, his development amidst stability could yield an even greater leap.