In his first two months on the job as Redskins head coach, Ron Rivera has no doubt binged Dwayne Haskins film like a hot, new show on Netflix.
It would be safe to bet that Rivera has watched every game and every throw many, many times, as he tries to figure out Haskins' ceiling and whether he can help Rivera reinvigorate the Redskins. And out of all that tape, there's one Sunday that especially stands out.
It's not either of the passer's early relief appearances, where he had to come in for Case Keenum halfway through a matchup and struggled. It's also not his breakout efforts versus the Eagles or Giants, afternoons where he put together by far his best stat lines.
The one start that really proved to Rivera what Haskins could become was actually Washington's 19-16 November win over the Lions, where Haskins went 13-of-29 for 156 yards and a pick. Those numbers aren't great; in fact, they're really rough. But they aren't what Rivera noticed.
"The thing that excited me about the Detroit game was the fourth quarter, the two drives where he had to score," Rivera told reporters at the Combine on Wednesday. "He was very calm, he was very calculated, he showed his poise, he showed his leadership. And he put them in position to win a football game."
"That's what you want from your quarterback, is a guy that gives you a chance to win, a guy that can you help you win," the coach added. "You can win because of him and you can win with him."
Those remarks from the 58-year-old represent easily his most effusive praise of the 2019 first-round pick. In his previous assessments of Haskins, Rivera has been fairly complimentary, but nothing more. On Wednesday in Indy, however, he sounded more positive and got more specific about No. 7.
"I see some progress, from the time he started the Detroit game to the very last game he played in," Rivera said. "You look at those things and you say, 'Man, there's some growth there. There's some potential for a young man to be the type of player that he can be.'"
Rivera isn't tied to Haskins, or really any other player on the Burgundy and Gold's roster for that matter, but Rivera's best path to success likely includes a Haskins-led offense for the next few years and maybe more.
The coach sounds like he wants to bring in other options to battle with the second-year pro, but it's not like the franchise can invest crazy money in the position. They are meeting with Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, though, interactions that could be simple pre-draft posturing or, perhaps, much more. If they somehow end up in D.C., Haskins would almost definitely be out, yet that's an outcome that feels far-fetched.
So, it appears as if it'll be in Rivera's best interest to keep developing Haskins into that finisher he saw against the Lions, because the talent is obviously there and few things in the NFL are more precious than a QB on a cheap deal.
Even still, Rivera made sure to remind Haskins that he's not the man quite yet. Could he be? Absolutely. Is he? It remains up to him.
"He's got that type of potential, but he's got to grow into it," he said. "Nothing will be given. He's not anointed... I'm expecting him to come in and compete and work, and we'll see what happens."
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