Washington Football

Position Group Rankings: Dwayne Haskins is going to make or break quarterback, and maybe the season

Washington Football

After each ranking the Redskins' position groups on a list that went from worst to best, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will now spend the rest of the week and weekend delving deeper into every spot on the roster.

Next up is one they, and you, are very, very interested in: Quarterback.

Currently on the depth chart: Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Steven Montez, Alex Smith

Who's in charge?: Ken Zampese (21 years of NFL experience, was most recently QBs coach for the Browns in 2018)

Quick overview

It sure seems like 2020 is going to be the year Dwayne Haskins eventually looks back on and says, "That's where my NFL career turned." Whether he makes that statement with pride or with disappointment is the key.

Yes, Kyle Allen is here, and some think this strange offseason gives him a chance at taking the starting job from Haskins. And, of course, Alex Smith is still trying to come back, and after all he's been through, he can't totally be counted out.

But even then, Ron Rivera and the Redskins sure seem poised to let Haskins handle the 16 upcoming games. His performance is what'll dictate how much they're willing to give him beyond that.



JP's notes

*I'm loudly bullish on Haskins in 2020. I continue to go back to a podcast conversation with Urban Meyer, Haskins' college coach and a three-time NCAA champ, about how the young quarterback improves every offseason. Meyer talked about being most impressed with Haskins' ability to learn and adapt, and in turn, compete. Well, 2020 is the year to show that. Even in an ugly rookie year, Haskins improved, playing a billion times better in his last two starts than he did in his first two appearances. I've charted the numbers, but at some point, it's not about numbers. Haskins seems like he's grown up, fast, and is ready to prove he's the future at QB in Washington. 

*Keep in mind a good year for Haskins doesn't mean the Redskins finish with a winning record or overwhelming numbers. The metrics I'll be focused on: completion percentage and chunk yardage plays. If Haskins can be accurate and make plays downfield, he definitely has a spot as the Redskins QB. 

*I don't think Kyle Allen is a real threat to Haskins unless the starter really struggles. Don't count out Steven Montez as a practice squad candidate. He's been very impressive in Zoom meetings according to a few folks involved. 


Pete's notes

*The local view of Haskins and national view of him are quite different, and that's something we've covered on the Redskins Talk podcast. I get why some think he's doomed — the offense overall was messier than JP's golf game after a few beers — but those more focused solely on the Redskins, including me, have some serious optimism about the former first-rounder. The way he's attacking this unusual offseason is encouraging and shows his increased maturity, and I can't wait to see how much more comfortable he is with a more supportive coaching staff and a year of experience to rely on. He has so.much.natural.talent, and if that skill set combines with more devotion to the mental side of quarterbacking, Haskins can absolutely prove his doubters wrong. I don't think he's going for 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns this year, but I do envision a major step forward.

*I found Scott Turner's assessment of Haskins' pocket presence to be the most favorable comment anyone in the new regime has made about the 23-year-old. "You are going to make money in this league by standing in there and making throws down the field when it is tough," Turner said. "He has shown enough of that. His eyes aren’t going to go down, and he is not going to look at the defensive line. He is going to hang in there and execute the throws down the field.” As Turner also mentioned, it isn't something all college signal callers show immediately as a pro; some are so used to having space at school and panic when that space isn't there on Sundays. While that's a quality that isn't obvious to the casual observer, it's one that is absolutely crucial. Be thrilled that Haskins is proficient in that area already.


*I'm curious to see if Rivera and Turner choose to make more use of Haskins' legs. He's never going to be what Cam Newton was for those two in Carolina, but he did display more mobility as a rookie than almost anyone predicted and he does have at least comparable size to Newton, even if his speed doesn't match up. 

*For those wondering, and I'm sure millions are, I'm firmly on the "no" side of the "Will Kyle Allen really push Haskins to start in Week 1?" debate. Yes, Allen has a sizable advantage when it comes to familiarity with the offense, but that's about all. I don't think he's nearly as capable of leading an offense as Haskins — NBC Sports' Josh Norris called Allen a "Colt McCoy" type QB, for what it's worth — and I just don't see the upside of beginning the year with Allen under center. He is an excellent backup to have around, and the organization should be commended for the trade they made to land him. But there's an enormous gap between "excellent backup" and "decent starter," and I don't believe Allen has what it takes to cover that gap.