By most statistical measures, Washington's sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins has regressed in 2020. His completion percentage is lower than in his rookie season, despite his lower yards/attempt average. In other words, he has been less accurate despite attempting easier passes.
There can be plenty of factors that go into numbers like this, of course, and we aren't even through a quarter of the season just yet. But there's no way around the fact that Haskins has struggled mightily to begin his second season.
After their Week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns, Rivera met with his young quarterback to "clear the air." Haskins' early struggles have come against Philadelphia, Arizona and Cleveland, none of which is expected to have an elite defense this season. Even with their 1-2 record, the Football Team is still tied atop the NFC East.
Their opponent in Week 4 will do Haskins no favors, as an angry Ravens team comes to town fresh off a Monday night prime time loss in which its typically-stout defense was torched.
Baltimore's blitz-heavy approach will present a challenge for Haskins and the Washington offense, but head coach Ron Rivera still wants to see signs of progress from his signal-caller.
“Well, it’ll be making the right decisions, using the right techniques," Rivera said when asked about evaluating Haskins' development on Sunday. "If all you have is the five-yard gain and it’s third-and-8 and you take the five-yard gain because that’s all you’ve got, that’s growth to me. That’s understanding what I have. Not forcing the ball -- that’s what I’m looking for."
Haskins has thrown three interceptions in three games, in addition to a conference-leading four fumbles. There are few things NFL coaches hate more than turnovers, so it's no surprise to hear Rivera mention decision-making as a key part of Haskins' growth.
In a general sense, he wants to see his quarterback under control.
"Control of the huddle, control of the situation, understanding the circumstances -- all those things when you watch the tape, those play into my mind as I’m watching," Rivera said. "Is he aware of the circumstances? Is he aware of the down and distance? Is he aware that we’re in field goal range? All those things are important to tell me that he’s growing. We saw so much of it early on and then we’ve kind of regressed a little bit. So, we want to see him kick start it and get it back going again."
Rivera did mention in his press conference that he felt Haskins practiced well in the second half of the week, making good decisions and delivering good balls. If Washington is going have any chance against one of the best teams in football, it'll need Haskins to carry over his strong practice on Sunday.