Press Box: The Redskins need to be patient with rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins

Illustration by Lindsay Hart.

Ryan Grube, Contributing Writer

When the Washington Redskins’ 15th overall selection in 2018 was announced, the fan uproar that followed was rather familiar.

Washington selected Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins with its first-round pick — the team’s first quarterback taken in the opening round since Robert Griffin III in 2012.

The hype surrounding Griffin III in 2012 was massive. The ex-Baylor quarterback arrived in the capital as the undisputed Week 1 starter.

Because of the results Griffin delivered that season — more than 4,000 total yards, 27 touchdowns and a playoff berth — many fans are expecting identical immediate success from Haskins.

In his first two preseason games, Haskins has completed 15 of 28 passes for 231 yards, two interceptions and his first NFL touchdown pass.

The 55-yard bomb to Robert Davis has numerous fans and media members calling for Haskins to be cemented as the opening week starter.

Washington’s radio analyst, Chris Cooley, who played for the team from 2004-2012,  joined Kevin Sheehan’s D.C. sports podcast, saying, “It’s time for Dwayne to play. You just gotta know. It’s too hard now in the league to wait for a long time with these guys.” 

But, there’s good reason for Gruden and company to remain patient with their rookie quarterback. After all, Haskins is facing a completely different situation than Griffin faced in his rookie campaign.

When Griffin took the field Week 1 in 2012, the quarterbacks who followed him on the depth chart were Rex Grossman and fellow rookie Kirk Cousins. At the time, there was not substantial competition.

Haskins is below Colt McCoy and Case Keenum on the Redskins’ first two released depth charts of the preseason.

Washington traded for Keenum back in March in hopes of the veteran winning the starting gig to become a bridge quarterback for Haskins. 

So far, Keenum has done just that. The career journeyman has shown control and command of the offense throughout the team’s first two preseason contests. 

Meanwhile, McCoy — although currently battling a leg injury — showed his undeniable knowledge of coach Gruden’s system throughout training camp. 

With guys like Keenum and McCoy — capable and serviceable veteran quarterbacks — in the Redskins’ locker room, it is simply not a good idea to roll out Haskins, an inexperienced quarterback, to face the Eagles in Philadelphia during Week 1.

Gruden said it best following the team’s second preseason game — “Dwayne shows flashes. He’s a work in progress. He continues to get better and better.”

Haskins has shown his ability to sling 25-yard passes into tight windows at will, but he has also displayed the ugly rookie mistakes. His two interceptions this preseason were a result of a floated underthrow, followed by a misread overthrow. 

He’s a rookie. It’s the preseason. It happens. But it’s also these rookie errors that need to be translated into learning experiences for Haskins.

A few impressive throws in preseason action don’t justify a starting job in the NFL. Gruden must see more from his rookie.

Given Washington’s tough schedule to open the season — four of the first five games come against 2018 playoff teams — it will be in Gruden’s best interest to roll with a veteran through this brutal stretch. 

Haskins will eventually start for Washington, and he is in a great position to turn the franchise around. But, that ship should not set sail in Week 1.   

 

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