Dwayne Haskins played really well Sunday against the Eagles, and it wasn't just on certain drives or in specific situations. Haskins put together a complete and encouraging performance in Week 15, and for that, he deserves a lot of credit.
But the Redskins' coaching staff, and most notably Kevin O'Connell, should be praised as well for setting Haskins up to shine versus Philly.
Here are three things O'Connell and the offense did at FedEx Field that contributed to the rookie's best effort as a pro.
They were more aggressive on early downs
The following two things are true: 1) Bill Callahan loves Adrian Peterson, and 2) Adrian Peterson has a legitimate shot at rushing for more than 1,000 yards this season. Because of those two facts, it felt like Sunday was setting up to be the Peterson Show, especially on first down.
It wasn't, though, and that greatly benefitted Haskins.
No. 7 found Terry McLaurin for a nine-yarder to start the contest, a throw that allowed the QB to settle into a nice rhythm from the start. The 75-yard touchdown pass from Haskins to McLaurin was also a first down toss, one that featured play-action:
PURE SPEED.— NFL (@NFL) December 15, 2019
Terry McLaurin goes 75 yards for the @Redskins TD! @TheTerry_25 #HTTR
📺: #PHIvsWAS on FOX
📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app
Watch free on mobile: https://t.co/ALWDCpltog pic.twitter.com/BvE2QyV8Kb
A first down pass in the second quarter, meanwhile, led to a defensive pass interference that advanced the ball 14 yards. On that possession, Haskins would eventually find Steven Sims for a score.
Throughout the matchup, the Burgundy and Gold seemed more comfortable with trusting Haskins to attack the Eagles, and that's something he very much enjoyed.
"I hope to continue to do it," he told reporters postgame.
They targeted Steven Sims a bunch
Want another example of O'Connell's influence over the gameplan? Look no further than how much Sims was involved.
Overall, Sims was targeted 11 times, and while he only hauled in five of those passes, he's a guy worth looking to often. O'Connell has talked for weeks now about how much he wants to use Sims, and while it may sound odd to say that an undrafted receiver from Kansas deserves lots of chances on a unit that includes McLaurin and Peterson, it's true.
He's really difficult for defensive backs to stay in front of and he's shown a penchant for making some tremendous grabs, including his toe-tapper for his first career receiving TD on Sunday.
"I'm seeing everything and I'm playing faster," Sims said in the locker room.
O'Connell and Haskins are seeing him, too, and his larger role is giving Haskins another weapon to rely on.
They introduced a creative option play
In addition to the uptick in aggressiveness, the Redskins also were more creative against the Eagles than they had been lately. The best example of that is the option they introduced and executed perfectly on two separate snaps.
On the first option, Haskins fake-tossed it to Peterson before lateraling it to him a second later. The fake from Haskins was a nifty way to buy more time for the play to develop and it set Peterson up to pick up a first down:
They went back to it again in the third quarter, but this time, Haskins kept the ball and cut upfield for a 23-yard gain:
Nice play design by KOC and #Redskins staff on 3rd and 1. Pitch option from under center. Haskins does an excellent job reading the unblocked defender and faking the pitch before keeping it and taking it up the field for a first down. pic.twitter.com/BvYkhomyTd— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) December 15, 2019
Watch any NFL game on any weekend, and you'll see offenses trying new concepts and surprising defenses with those concepts. In Week 15, the Redskins were finally one of those offenses, and the group as a whole was the most effective its been under Haskins. And for that, both the player and the staff should be recognized.
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