Quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. addressed reporters from Redskins Park on Wednesday following last Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers. Here are five takeaways from his press conference:
1. Haskins likes moving the ball downfield in up-tempo offenses.
Haskins was dealing with an ankle injury for the entire second half after he was injured on a sack in second quarter, and it affected everything from the way he planted his feet to his overall movement.
But that discomfort seemed to disappear when the Redskins moved to a no-huddle, up-tempo offense during the final three minutes. Down 11 and in need of a score, Haskins went 6 of 8 for 75 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown to rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin. It's that kind of downfield attack that Haskins loves and said is one of his "strong suits".
"It's doesn't give the defense that much time to adjust," Haskins said. "They've got to keep their personnel out there, can't really do much as far as subbing packages and things like that. …You don't really do too much exotic stuff in an up-tempo offense, so it's easier for us to throw the ball downfield."
2. Haskins has learned valuable lessons in his first five starts.
It's been five games since Haskins took the field for the first time as a starter against the Buffalo Bills in Nov. 3, and it's been even longer since he made his NFL debut against the New York Giants on Sept. 29.
He's come a long way this year, both on the field and in the classroom, and each game has offered a new learning experience. One of the biggest: learning to focus on getting better in his rookie year and not trying to take on too much.
Haskins knows there will come a time when he will be expected to play at an elite level. As the No.15 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, that comes with the territory. But Haskins has learned the only thing he can do as a first-year player is be ready whenever his number is called and know some things aren't going to go his way.
"I think the biggest thing is just playing calm," Haskins said. "I felt myself pressing [earlier this season], trying to make too much happen, trying to make things happen when it wasn't there. Now, I just feel myself being calm, cool and collected and ripping it when it's there. When it's not there, move on."
3. It's "not necessarily" harder to get in rhythm in a run-heavy offense.
Interim head coach Bill Callahan made it clear last week that the Redskins are a run-dominant offense, And while that limits the amount of times Haskins throws, it does prevent him from getting into a passing rhythm.
The Redskins have rushed the football 58 times in two games and have attempted 52 throws. The only time Haskins said that makes things challenging is when the offense is forced into third-and-long situations, which happened seven times against the Packers.
But Haskins knows that is part of being an NFL quarterback. If he needs to make a longer throw to convert and keep his offense on the field, then that's what he will try to do.
"If you got to throw the ball on third-and-12 and get a first down, you do it," Haskins said. "If you go to throw the ball for a touchdown on first-and-10 from the 50, do it. Whatever I'm asked to do, I'll try to do to the best of my ability."
4. Haskins has seen growth in rookie Steven Sims Jr.
With both veteran receivers Trey Quinn and Paul Richardson out with injuries, the Redskins started McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon and Sims -- all of them rookies -- against the Packers. McLaurin performed well with four receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown, but Sims wasn't too far behind him with four receptions for 40 yards.
Sims had career-highs in receptions, targets (7) and yards Sunday, and that progress has gotten Haskins' attention.
"He's doing a great job as far as getting better with his route running," he said. "He's a very shifty guy, so sometimes he can put himself out of place, but he definitely does a great job of getting open."
After starting the year as a kickoff return specialist, Sims' role has expanded in the absence of Quinn (concussion). Sims is now returning punts and being featured more in the offense. Haskins said Sims' releases and selling routes has been a big factor in his improvement.
"[Sims is] our first progression on a lot of plays and ... I'm hoping he continues to get a bigger role throughout the season."
5. Haskins is continuing to grow as a leader and player.
Being an NFL quarterback isn't all about putting up good passing numbers and a lot of touchdowns. It's also about being the leader of the team and someone teammates can put their faith in during high-stakes situations.
On that front, Haskins believes he has gotten better each week.
"As a young guy trying to lead men, it's something you have to continuously grow at and figure out what needs to be done as a quarterback, as a leader, as someone who's looked to as a leader whether you want to be or not," Haskins said.
That includes speaking up in the huddle, talking during and after games and executing plays. Haskins feels like he has improved since his first appearance against the Giants.
"I feel like that will continue to grow," Haskins said.