By name-dropping Dan Snyder in his postgame press conference after the Redskins' Week 16 loss to the Giants, Dwayne Haskins drew plenty of attention to what will hopefully turn out to be a minor ankle injury.
Those able to look past that drama, however, will be able to see the more important Haskins-related storyline to emerge from Sunday.
He looked terrific. Again.
A week after putting together easily his best start as a pro, Haskins followed it up with an even more promising half. Before getting hurt on the first snap of the third quarter, the first-rounder completed 12-of-15 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns. His first 10 throws were successful and he was supremely comfortable throughout his time on the field.
"It started off hot and I was feeling it a little bit," he said at the podium afterward.
A little bit? How about a lot.
Haskins' touchdown to Steven Sims — where he nicely navigated the pocket, rolled up and to the left and tossed a dart to the receiver — was a picturesque QB sequence. His second touchdown, to Hale Hentges, was one where he calmly lofted it to the tight end in the corner of the end zone. In addition to those scores, he found other options for a handful of solid intermediate gains.
"He's come lightyears from where he started in Week 4 against the Giants," Bill Callahan told reporters following the loss. "He had a really good grasp of the game plan. His management of the game was great. It was just unfortunate that he got hurt when he did."
Haskins, who was replaced by Case Keenum, badly wanted to return to the action, but was advised by Snyder and the Redskins' medical staff not to. He's hoping to be healthy again for the finale in Dallas.
Whether he ultimately is or not, though, shouldn't affect how the franchise views him. His efforts versus the Eagles and Giants should have people feeling confident about what he could one day become.
Haskins' first five starts were comprised of brief positive moments but no real sustainable stretches of breathtaking output. At best, he was adequate. At worst, he was uninspiring.
Since the offense has shifted toward a more quick-passing style, however, he's completely changed the narrative. He finished the Eagles matchup with a 121.3 rating and he had earned a near-perfect 143.2 rating before exiting the meeting with the Giants.
Numbers aside, he appeared far more in control and capable of delivering on his lofty draft status than he had in his earlier starts.
Overall, this hasn't been the perfect rookie campaign for Haskins. Many would argue it has been close to the opposite of perfect, thanks to a head coaching change and major problems for him early, and those arguments would be strong.
Yet, thanks to six auspicious quarters, there's hope for Haskins and the Redskins. There's no guarantee those six quarters turn into six or more years of brilliance, sure, but they at least have indicated brilliance could at some point be reached.
"I feel that I can be so much better," Haskins said. "I'm just getting started."
Those words would've sounded foolish a few weeks ago. Now, they can be believed.
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