In the coming weeks, Redskins.com will be interviewing position coaches about younger players who have made significant contributions so far this season. Here's who we've interviewed so far:
With Dwayne Haskins Jr. set to make his first-career home start Sunday against the Jets, Redskins.com sat down with quarterbacks coach Tim Rattay to discuss Haskins' development and what to expect from the rookie signal-caller moving forward.
Q: What has Haskins' development been like since being drafted 15th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft?
Tim Rattay: It’s been a process, and it’s always a process for young guys. The quarterback position has a lot going on, and there’s so many things that he had, just that process of getting better at and he’s done it each week. Each week he’s been here through OTAs and training camp and the season, he’s getting better and better, and he’s learning just all the things: how to prepare, how to practice, just fundamental stuff. I mean there's so many things that we've worked on and he’s willing to get better, and that’s the biggest thing. I’ve been happy with his growth.
Why the decision to go with Haskins as the starting quarterback for the rest of the season? What went into that decision?
TR: It’s a group decision, and we’re all on the same page and excited going forward with Dwayne. He showed a lot against Buffalo -- just the week of him preparing and just managing the game, playing with confidence -- and that was good to see. There’s some throws that obviously he'd obviously want back, but I thought the [game] was clean.
What specifically did Haskins show the week of the Bills game that gave the coaching staff confidence he could be the starter for the rest of the year?
TR: As a rookie, that game one is the first week you’re kind of feeling out how to prepare. What do I need to do? And each week he got better and better, and it culminated in him to knowing he’s going to start. He put the time in, put the work in and he was much better in practice. Obviously getting the reps helped, and it showed in the game with his overall demeanor and feel for the offense.
Where has Haskins made his biggest strides since the start of his rookie campaign?
TR: I think the biggest thing is the knowledge of the offense. It’s a much bigger volume than what he’s used to. In camp you get reps, but you just don’t get as many reps as you’d like. And the season starts and you're the backup and you don’t get as many reps as you’d like. So, his growth in the offense has gotten better. It’s the little things and where his eyes are at. We talk all the time of where his eyes and where his feet are at, and against Buffalo I was pleased and felt that his eyes were in the right place for the most part. Now we have to speed it up a little bit. But just the overall knowledge of the offense.
In the games Haskins entered in relief -- versus the Giants and against the Vikings -- were the positioning of his eyes and feet mainly what got him into trouble? Or were there other things that resulted in those struggles?
TR: It's all of that. Like I said, it's really the overall knowledge of the offense. It’s everything: it’s protections, it’s coverages, it’s reads. You can sit there on a paper and tell what the reads are, but you got to tie your eyes and your feet into those reads. If you’re a split second late, then you’ll put yourself in a bad position of incompletions and all that stuff. So, that’s really just the overall knowledge of tying in his reads that he does on the chalkboard to on the field of where his feet need to be, where his eyes need to be because things gotta happen so fast out there.
What about his preparation and his mindset? How do you think he's developed in those areas?
TR: It’s just the growth of a young player. Just understanding what he needs to do during a game week to prepare, how much extra he has to put in, knowing what he needs also and just kind of feeling him out to understand, ‘Hey, this is what I need to show him and this is what I need to make sure he knows.' It's all that kind of stuff and just getting to know him, and then it's him also knowing what he needs to make sure that when he walks out there on Sunday he’s comfortable and he’s confident because he's prepared.
With the Redskins having a bye week following Haskins' first-career start, what did you and the rest of the coaching staff tell him about what he should do during the bye week to come back as prepared as possible?
TR: Well, it was a good time to have a couple days to really evaluate each quarterback. But [Haskins] individually, just really take a deep breath and go back and watch all his cut-ups of when he played, watch his preseason stuff and just say, ‘All right, these are the things that we need to focus on going forward, not only as an offense overall, but also individually.' So, it was a good time to spend a couple days doing that, and then take a deep breath. He knows what he needs to work on, pinpoint it, because you want to be narrow focused on what you gotta get better at. I don't want to sit there and give him a hundred things every day to get better at. I want to narrow the focus of 'these are the three or four things I need you to work on today.' I think he’s getting to a point where we work on them in the individual [period], he sees that translate to the practice field. And then in the game he has confidence, and we can move forward that way.
How does your job change when Haskins is at quarterback versus when veterans like Case Keenum and Colt McCoy are under center?
TR: In this business, obviously, you've got to have all three guys up and prepared. The starter needs to prepare, and then you really got to make sure the backup is extra prepared because he’s not getting reps. Like you said, veterans and rookies can be different, but again, just kind of understanding what each guy needs to make sure that I know going into Sunday -- whoever the starter is -- is prepared. And then with the backup, whether I'm giving up them tests, I’m quizzing them on the field, we're watching reps. If you’re not in, I’m watching reps behind them, asking them questions so they get mental reps. So, just making sure that both those guys, whoever it is, is prepared if they have to go in.
How do you think the offense changes with Haskins under center?
TR: Well, you have to go forward and see. We got to identify what we need to get better at. But really my main focus is Dwayne and the quarterbacks in the room. That’s really my focus right now. [My focus] in this offense is making sure that as a position coach, I gotta make sure my position is prepared to go and play on Sunday. That's really my main focus.
How would you define success for Haskins both in the Jets game and the rest of the season?
TR: That’s the thing, and I talked about it with the Bills game. I want to see the overall operation of running the offense increase, and that’s what he did in Buffalo. That’s the next part. Just the tempo of the offense in and out of the huddle. And then as I talked before, everything from his steps in the run game to his run checks, to protection. And then in the pass game, it’s just where his eyes and feet are in the concepts. So, there’s growth in a lot of ways that people might not see, and I get excited at a better run-step, or a better run-check -- that kind of deal -- better in and out of the huddle, better job calling plays, that kind of stuff. We just got to continue going forward with that. It’s all the details of playing the position, and that's where the focus is. Just starting from in and out of the huddle running the offense, you know what I mean? That's No. 1. Then it's all that stuff we talked about. So yeah there’s growth, and we've just got to keep pushing.