The Redskins' offense has a new starting quarterback coming out of the bye week in Dwayne Haskins, and it welcomes back another talented young running back in Derrius Guice, who has been sidelined since Week 2 with a knee injury.
Interim head coach Bill Callahan named Haskins the starter Monday, and the rookie has steadily progressed in each of his first three appearances. He'll make his first-career home start against the New York Jets on Sunday.
“The two weeks of preparation, more repetition, we got some good work done on the bye week and then leading into practice this week really honing in on the Jets,” offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell said. “[Dwayne Haskins] had a good week of practice, and a lot of it just comes down to how we want to play the game and what his comfort level is.”
While the Jets have the second-best rush defense in the NFL, their pass defense ranks 26th, giving up an average of 262.4 yards per game. Aside from safety Jamal Adams -- a 2018 Pro Bowler with elite playmaking ability -- the Jets have an inexperienced secondary because of injuries to veteran corners Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts.
Sixth-round rookie Bless Austin and third-year corner Nate Hairston are the projected starters heading into Sunday’s matchup. New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones exploited their youth, throwing for 308 yards and four touchdowns. The Giants were also able to convert several big plays, including touchdowns of 39 and 61 yards, respectively.
Haskins and the Redskins' receivers will look to hit on some big plays Sunday -- an area the offense has struggled in the past several weeks. The Redskins and Jets are tied for last in the league in explosiveness, with each team totaling just eight plays of more than 25 yards this season. And when the Redskins do look to beat teams deep, they're usually looking towards third-round rookie Terry McLaurin, who leads the team with 32 receptions, 497 yards and five touchdowns.
“Like we do every week, we try to pinpoint maybe the matchups within man coverage or within zones that we can attack,” O’Connell said.
The Redskins executed a conservative game plan against the Bills in Haskins' first-career start. In the three games Haskins has played, he has only thrown three passes that traveled 20 yards or further in the air. (Haskins averaged 9.1 air yards per target while at Ohio State, which would be tied for 10th among NFL quarterbacks this season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.)
However, against a banged-up Jets secondary, O’Connell may open up the playbook more to take advantage of Haskins' strong suits, which include arm strength and the ability to throw the ball downfield.
“Now that I’m able to get multiple reps with different stuff and different looks and different things that can happen in the game, the plays are a lot easier to go execute,” Haskins said.
Take a look at practice photos from Thursday practice for the upcoming Jets home game.
Joining Haskins on the field Sunday will be his college teammate in McLaurin and another promising running back in Guice, who will split carries with future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson. That's a solid recipe for the offense to get back on track, especially against a Jets' defense that has been suspect as of late.