The Redskins will start Dwayne Haskins for his second straight game on Sunday, and this time, it's at home. In his first start two weeks ago, Haskins played his best football so far this year.
That game, in Buffalo in a fierce wind, wasn't overly impressive from the former Ohio State star, but it was progress. Haskins completed 68 percent of his passes and while he threw no touchdowns he also didn't turn the ball over. In two previous relief appearances Haskins had four interceptions in just 22 pass attempts.
Since Case Keenum suffered a concussion on October 24th, Haskins has gotten almost all of the first team QB work. That's nearly a month of practices, and one full game, to go along with increased film and meeting time. Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan told a story of Haskins' improvement as a leader and teammate since he sputtered in the second half against the Vikings, and it has showed too.
So considering all of that, what would make for a good game from Haskins on Sunday against the Jets? Redskins offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell explained what that would look like.
"His development is obviously a huge thing," O'Connell said after pointing out that the team's goal is first and foremost to get a win.
"I think the day-to-day, minute-to-minute process of him growing as an NFL quarterback and now our starting quarterback is huge," O'Connell said.
The Jets' defense ranks 17th in the NFL in yards-per-game and are giving up more than 26 points-per-game, which actually ranks worse than the Redskins. Last week against Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones, the Jets gave up more than 300 yards passing and four touchdowns through the air.
Jamal Adams is an elite player on the back end of the Jets defense, and New York is stout against the run, but this is a game Haskins could find some success. Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is known for his radical blitz schemes, and O'Connell expects plenty of that on Sunday. Still, with significant injuries on the New York defense, Haskins should have some chances.
"Like we do every week, we try to pinpoint maybe the matchups within man coverage or within zones that we can attack, as well as making sure we’re spaced out in our concepts and the progressions for Dwayne are clear and concise, and he can be really aggressive with his feet and eyes as he progresses through a play," O'Connell said.
Of course for the Redskins players and coaches beating the Jets is the ultimate goal. The team only has one win this year, and obviously wants another one. Running the football will be a huge part of Washington's game plan as Callahan has mandated that since he took over the coaching gig in October.
For the front office and really even for Redskins fans, however, a win is less important than Haskins' development. The 15th overall pick needs to begin to show that all of his potential in college can translate to the NFL. That doesn't mean mistake-free football, that's not realistic, but it does mean real signs of progress.
The good news is that some of that is already happening.
"The best thing is where he’s at from a preparation standpoint now. You feel comfortable evaluating where he’s at as the week goes on because we’re really not having to repeat a lot of things," O'Connell said of his rookie passer. "He’s done a really good job handling first and second down and puts that away, and then we move into situational football and he carries that throughout the rest of the week. I think he’s really starting to get a process to the week and it’s been fun to watch here. In a really short amount of time, he’s done some really good things here.”
And while Williams will undoubtedly have a plan to attack Haskins, the Redskins coaching staff has specified their offensive scheme for the rookie QB. That should be a big help.
"He’s had a good week of practice and a lot of it just comes down to how we want to play the game and what his comfort level is, the plays he – I know I say to you guys every week – the plays he really starts to feel comfortable with we’ll meet on that and talk over some of the things maybe he might not like at this point and those plays will vanish from the call sheet," O'Connell said. "If that means we carry less inventory, so be it because I want him to be comfortable and feel really good about what we’re calling on Sunday.”
Progress matters most, and by O'Connell's words, the QB is progressing plenty on the practice field. Now comes a big chance to do it in a game.
MORE REDSKINS NEWS: