Two days after being named the starter for the rest of the season, rookie Dwayne Haskins addressed reporters from Redskins Park. Here are five takeaways from Wednesday's media session:
1. The Haskins era has begun, and he's "very excited" about the opportunity.
Haskins' NFL debut came in relief of Case Keenum against the New York Giants on Sept. 29. About a month later, Haskins replaced an injured Keenum in Minnesota. Both situations were not ideal for the first-round rookie, who was thrust into the starting role with the Redskins trailing on the road, and neither were the results. Of his first 22-career passes, four of them were intercepted.
With Keenum still in the league's concussion protocol following the Vikings' loss, Haskins finally received all of the first-team reps ahead of the Buffalo game Nov. 3, and he responded by completing 68.2% of his passes and playing turnover free football against the Bills. It was an adequate performance that earned Haskins the respect of his teammates and coaches and eventually led to the Redskins naming him as their permanent starter under center.
“Very excited about [interim head] coach [Bill] Callahan naming me the starter for the rest of the season," Haskins said about Monday's announcement. "[I’ve] worked really hard to get to this point and even more work has to be done to continue to go forward.”
Haskins spent the early portion of the bye week mulling over his first-career start during which he completed 15 of his 22 passes for 144 yards. Following Wednesday's practice, he worked out a few times with his high school quarterbacks coach in the area. Then it was back to Redskins Park on Sunday to prepare for Monday's session and gear up for his first-career home start versus the New York Jets.
“Being a young guy, being a rookie quarterback in the NFL, it’s going to be very challenging," Haskins said. "But to know that [Callahan] supports me and wants to rally behind me and do everything possible to help me get this team to win some games -- that meant a lot.”
Take a look at photos of Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins through his rookie season.
2. "Different Me Back There": Haskins enters the Jets game more comfortable and confident.
Practice and film study are effective developmental techniques for young quarterbacks, but there's no substitute for game action.
Haskins learned that lesson in stints against the Giants and Vikings. He showed flashes of promise and made plenty of mistakes, but with each play he found it easier to play naturally and instinctively. That progression continued throughout his first start against the Bills.
“I just felt like as the game went on, the reps I got, the more rhythm I got with my eyes and my feet and being able to look guys in the huddle and tell an All-Pro guard like Brandon Scherff what the play is and have some authority behind it meant a lot for me," Haskins said. "The more that I got to do that, the more confident I was in being able to motivate the guys that are around me and finding out ways I can push the ones that are in the huddle with me. The more games, the more plays I get, I feel like I’ll continue to get better at that.”
Haskins' next test comes Sunday against the 15th-ranked Jets defense, which he said is very active and effectively disguises coverages.
"I feel like once we’re able to recognize what they do, we’ll be able to execute at a high level," Haskins said.
3. Haskins' local ties makes Sunday's home game extra special.
After growing up in New Jersey, Haskins moved to Maryland before ninth grade to play football at heralded Bullis School at Potomac. It was during these years that Haskins went FedExField to watch the Redskins, envisioning what it would be like to be an NFL quarterback.
On Sunday, Haskins will return to FedExField as the starting quarterback in the nation's capital, eager to perform in front his family, friends and home-state fans.
"Being able to play at home and being from this area means a lot more to me than it would for another guy," Haskins said. "I just want to be able to go out there, go one play at a time and hopefully get a W.”
4. In becoming a leader for the Redskins, Haskins will lean on his college experience.
Haskins is familiar with earning the respect and trust of his older counterparts. At Ohio State, Haskins started as a redshirt sophomore and was tasked with replacing three-time captain J.T. Barrett, who Terry McLaurin still refers to as one of the best leaders he's played with.
Instead of trying to emulate Barrett, Haskins showed his individuality in the weight room, during film study, on the practice fields and especially on game days. And over time, McLaurin said, Haskins garnered approval through hard work and success. The Buckeyes went 13-1 with a Rose Bowl Victory last season, while Haskins set school and Big Ten records for single-season passing yards and touchdowns and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
"It was always having to get older guys to respect me and being able to get older guys to know that he’s young, but he’s still going to lead us," Haskins said about his time at Ohio State. "That’s just a process -- that’s earning trust, that’s spending extra time in the film room, spending extra time in the weight room, spending time before practice and after practice so that they can see I’m taking it serious and working on my craft. That’s something that I take very much pride in, and I’m hoping that starts translating with the guys in the locker room.”
5. "I'm Not Looking To Prove Anything"
Haskins admits he's fearful of falling short of his potential. He believes he can be a franchise quarterback in the NFL and one of the best in the sport, and the thought of not reaching that threshold motivates him every day.
Haskins also recognizes the outside pressures; he understands that the Redskins drafted him to be their quarterback of the future and knows his every move will be analyzed and dissected. That's the nature of the NFL, Haskins said. It's an intense profession that requires players to be "laser focused."
With that said, Haskins does not feel like he needs to prove anything to anyone aside from himself. The journey towards personal vindication continues Sunday against the Jets.
"I just want to put the work in and be accountable for me and my teammates and hope that makes a lot more difference in trying to prove what I can possibly do. I know I can play at a high level, so I’ve just got to go do it.”
Take a look at practice photos from Wednesday practice for the upcoming Jets home game.