LANDOVER — What you are looking for is progress.
Game by game, Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins is under an intense glare. He is only a rookie. There is still so much to learn. But a first-round draft pick at his position is almost never given the luxury of time.
Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, Haskins had a breakthrough. He kept Washington in a back-and-forth game that featured 10 lead changes. But ultimately, the Redskins lost 37-27. A strip and a fumble return on the final Hail Mary throw from the 47 was returned for a touchdown by the Eagles instead.
The result stung. Bill Callahan sped to the press conference room in record time and didn’t offer much praise for Haskins or anyone else. Haskins himself was bummed.
“I’m nowhere close to where I want to be,” Haskins said. “That should be an average game for me.”
That’s a harsh self assessment. But in his sixth start as an NFL quarterback, there was more to like than not. Haskins completed eight of his first nine passes and 19 of 28 overall. Yes, Terry McLaurin did most of the work on a 75-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, but Haskins put the ball in a perfect spot where his old Ohio State teammate didn’t have to break stride.
Haskins didn’t throw an interception, wasn’t sacked and you can cut him some slack on the final play. The Eagles jumped the Hail Mary with an all out blitz and Haskins never had a chance to get a throw off.
Steven Sims also caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Haskins, who finished with a 121.3 quarterback rating. It was easily his best game so far. We might not know who will be coaching the Redskins next season, but they at least have some encouraging film to watch heading into the offseason next month. Callahan didn’t have much to say. So let’s get Eagles coach Doug Pederson’s perspective.
“They study the tape as well and I thought Haskins really stepped in and did a nice job today, and led his team.” Pederson said. “It was something that you know he is capable of doing. He’s in this league for a reason.”
Haskins’ pass to McLaurin came on the first play of Washington’s second drive of the game. It's third drive went 75 yards, too, and only took seven plays. A 19-yard pass to Sims pushed the ball into Philadelphia territory. The Eagles helped with three penalties on the drive, but Haskins found Sims on a 3rd-and-5 from the 5. The Redskins were in position to score a touchdown and did it to take a 14-10 lead.
Down 17-14, Haskins led another scoring drive in the third quarter. His 11-yard pass to McLaurin on 2nd-and-12 set up a first down run by Adrian Peterson on 3rd-and-short. He found Peterson out of the backfield for seven yards and then used his legs to gain 23 yards on the ground himself.
That isn’t something we’ve seen much from Haskins yet. Call it another sign of growth. Haskins knew the Eagles were going to come with a blitz. The Redskins had run that play six times before and he noticed a linebacker where a defensive end should be. So he tucked it and ran. That scoring drive then ended on the first play of the fourth quarter with a 10-yard cutback run by Peterson to make it 21-17.
A couple more fourth-quarter drives stalled, but the Redskins got points on a pair of Dustin Hopkins field goals. In the end, that wasn’t enough. The Eagles took the lead 31-27 on a Carson Wentz touchdown pass with 26 seconds to go and then added the final score to win it.
There are no moral victories for Haskins or the Redskins. Their standing is clear: It’s a 3-11 team just hoping to see signs from its young quarterback. Sunday, at least, they were there all game and not just in the fourth quarter of blowout losses.
There was the 75-yard touchdown pass to McLaurin, his 23-yard run and six other passes for more than 10 yards. Haskins set his career high in passing yards (286) and tied his career high in completions (19). The result wasn’t what he wanted, but the process was better. Now for the hard part. Do it again.
“We did a lot of good things that we can continue to work on for next week [against the New York Giants],” Haskins said. “Let’s bring it for the last home game of the season and hopefully we come out with a win.”
MORE REDSKINS NEWS: