Many supporters of Washington Football team quarterback Dwayne Haskins point to his relative inexperience at the position as the reason for many of his growing pains.
After all, most of the points they make are true. The 23-year-old has made just nine NFL starts thus far in his career and only spent one season as the Ohio State starter before entering the draft. Yet, what many tend to forget is in that one season with the Buckeyes, Haskins was one of the best pure passers, if not the best, in the entire country.
Haskins finished third in Heisman Trophy voting and broke almost every single-season passing record possible at Ohio State and in the Big Ten as a whole. It's why Washington felt confident enough to draft Haskins 15th overall in 2019, despite him having just one true college season under his belt.
At Ohio State, Haskins thrived in an offense that played almost exclusively out of the shotgun, designed to get the ball out of the quarterback's hands quickly. The Buckeyes also rarely huddled, often getting to the line before the defense had time to set up.
Through two weeks of the 2020 NFL season, and for parts of his rookie season as well, Haskins has been his best when Washington has operated out of a no-huddle, up-tempo style, similar to the offense he ran in college.
"I feel very comfortable in a tempo, no-huddle offense," Haskins told local media Wednesday. "When you’re in a game where you’re trying to get the ball going and moving down the field and trying to create some momentum, sometimes you need to be able to go to that stuff."
Haskins' numbers through two weeks also prove his point. When getting rid of the ball quickly (two seconds or fewer), Haskins is 22-27 for 207 yards and 2 TDs. When holding onto the ball for two seconds or longer, Haskins is 11-30 for 107 yards and zero scores.
Sure, it's a small sample size, but it proves that it's obvious where Haskins plays his best football.
"Sometimes you get caught up in huddling and calling plays and guys fall to the line of scrimmage and their presence isn’t the same or guys are trying to figure out: ‘Where am I going?’ on a longer play call," Haskins said. "No-huddle, you just get the guys on the ball and it’s a right or left call as far as where the formation is and then it’s three or four words you say as far as the protection play. The case or scenario may be where the guys aren’t thinking as much."
While it may seem like an obvious call for Washington to play an up-tempo style offense more often, head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner aren't sure that is the answer to the team's offensive woes.
Earlier this week, Rivera told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay that Washington's success running the no-huddle could be as much due to the game scenario, as the team has been down multiple scores in both games when they've shifted to the up-tempo style. When down double-digits, opponents are often playing a little looser of a defense in order to prevent a big play from happening over the top.
When speaking to local media Wednesday, Turner said that Washington was already one of the quicker teams in the league in the first half of games, even when they haven't been operating out of the no-huddle.
"Then everyone talks about tempo. We look at that as well," Turner said. "We do tempo where that’s another thing, we were eighth in the league in first-half pace. So, we’re running a play about every 24 seconds. The difference between eighth and second I think is about one second."
Washington's offense is full of young pieces. Haskins is in his second season, same with his two top wideouts Terry McLaurin and Steven Sims.
With a bunch of players still learning Turner's offense, the quarterback believes there's still plenty of benefit of playing an up-tempo style of offense more often.
"I feel like when you have a whole bunch of young guys trying to master an offense, you try to make it as simple as possible where guys aren’t taking too long to process or think," Haskins said. "When you think too much you play slower. I feel like I’ve gotten to an understanding now where I’m playing faster and trying to get the guys to play the same speed I’m playing at."