The player that is most important for the future might be the only thing worth talking about right now, and that is clearly Mr. Haskins. I wanted to try to give a fair assessment of his play this season, because while everyone demands a black or white answer, the truth is somewhere in between. And I like me a nice gray.
On paper, almost nothing about Haskins’ season is promising on any level. I know when you read that last sentence, you probably thought…well there HAS to be something! Wellll…there really isn’t. Rather than read through a paragraph of disappointing stats, let’s just have a look-see all together, shall we? But first…take a deep breath…
Dwayne Haskins Jr. 2019 ranks amongst 38 qualifying QBs (100 attempt minimum)
DVOA (Value over replacement per play): 38th
DYAR (Total value over replacement): 38th
Yards Pet Attempt: 35th
Danger Plays (Interceptable balls + fumble opportunities): 32nd
True Passer Rating: 35th
True Completion %: 34th
Play-action Comp %: 35th
Red zone Comp %: 51st
Deep Ball Comp %: 28th
Pressured Comp %: 26th
Clean pocket comp %: 33rd
In the ‘ol ball coach, Steve Spurrier’s words…‘Not very good!’ The fact that Haskins is sitting in the bottom 5 of EVERY important statistic of EVERY quarterback that have thrown at least 10 passes is obviously disturbing. Frankly, it doesn’t look THAT bad on the field, does it? We are all watching the games, and we see him miss throws, but is he really worse than basically every other quarterback, both starters and second/third stringers that have started at least 4 games this season? Yikes! Haskins clearly isn’t getting it done in the Redskins offense. According to Football Outsiders, the Redskins’ weighted offensive DVOA (weighted DVOA is adjusted value over average weighted for recency) is 32nd in the league and is nearly 6% lower than the next-worst offense. The pass offense is also 32nd, and nearly 4% lower than the next-worst team. The rush offense isn’t much further ahead, as the team ranks 25th in that category, but because of the poor run defenses the Redskins have faced, the adjusted (true) run DVOA is even lower.
Now, you might say, ‘Why are you telling me about the running game, you idiot?’ Well, put simply, a good, experienced quarterback helps avoid bad run plays with checks before the snap. Most recently, this was evidenced in Eli Manning’s return to the Giants’ lineup. Daniel Jones was called out by his head coach for not checking run plays at the line when he needed to, but Eli Manning’s 16 years as the starter for the G-Men have taught him when to get out of a bad play. Saquon Barkley was leading the league in negative runs coming into Monday Night’s game against the Eagles, and he only had one carry for lost yardage with Eli at the helm. Now, his 3.9 ypc weren’t anything special, but you didn’t see the RB getting blown up in the backfield like Redskins fans do so often on Sundays. In fact, by my count, the Redskins had free-rushers that ended runs in the backfield on six occasions on Sunday. The Redskins’ 4.5 ypc would have increased to 5.0 ypc without those mistakes.
In the pass game, many have said that Haskins might not truly be getting the opportunity that he deserves, with a seemingly lackluster group of receivers and an offense that is trying to keep things close rather than actually trying to score points. While I will admit that Callahan’s offense isn’t exactly suited for a quarterback to put up impressive numbers, or to be anything beyond complimentary, the units around Haskins have not been all bad. Terry McLaurin (20th) and Kelvin Harmon (35th) both rank in the top 50 of DVOA for their positions, representing the 10th best pair of receivers in the league. Haskins is particularly struggling with out-routes and timing on underneath throws, which can be mostly attributed to not distributing his weight towards his front leg on his throws. Still, he misses too many easy passes to receivers that are doing a good job of getting open.
As a viewer, it’s hard to tell how many of the sacks are on Haskins, but as I returned to the film over his past two starts, I counted four sacks that could be attributed to a free-rusher, which points all blame to the signal caller. In those situations, the quarterback needs to slide the protection or create a hot-route based on an over-loaded blitz. This is something he can learn, but it’s something that obviously affects his ability to be an effective quarterback. As detailed by Mark Bullock below, Haskins’ sack rate would be third worst ALL TIME if extrapolated over a 16-game season.
Dwayne Haskins is being sacked at an alarming rate, so I broke down the various reasons why he’s being sacked so often and what the #Redskins can do about it. https://t.co/wx3czBh2JI pic.twitter.com/pwIDVQaPNJ— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) December 10, 2019
For starters, I’d like to compare the two oft-compared first-round QBs. Daniel Jones has been deemed the franchise quarterback by both local and national media, as well as fans, who have assured us all that Dave Gettleman made the right choice when he took Jones sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Let’s dive deeper though, shall we? Daniel Jones’ numbers are almost as bad as Haskins’. Jones ranks 33rd in both DYAR and DVOA and throws 3.3 interceptable balls per game compared to Dwayne’s 1.5. Jones has more downfield-throwing opportunities than Haskins by nearly double and he throws 12 more times per game. As I asserted earlier, Callahan’s offense can be described as nothing more than a complementary scheme and is probably antiquated at it’s very best. Naturally, then, Jones yardage and touchdown numbers will be higher because of the offense he is in and the opportunities he is given. In addition to the scheme difference, Jones’ offensive line ranks 20th in pass protection vs. Haskins’ 31st-ranked unit, which accounts for a difference of over 3% in sack rate. Beyond a direct comparison to Jones, though, Haskins has shown intangible growth that I don’t believe can be ignored.
Haskins has displayed an attitude-an exuberance-that, even though may be characterized as misguided at times, is needed to galvanize a franchise. He shows emotion on the field both in negative and positive plays, celebrating with his teammates after big ones (or, unfortunately, fans at the end of games), and exhorting his teammates in tough situations. Though his tactics in the Jets came have come under fire in weeks since, no one can argue that Haskins wants to win and his hard on himself, and only himself, following games.
It isn’t hard to think back to two out of the last three signal callers who would subtly call-out teammates after losses or tough games. Both quarterbacks would blame mistakes or late-game failings on ‘trash at [their feet]’ or ‘too much pressure given up to win games.’ Haskins critiques himself after both wins and losses, and even after he gutted out more than two quarters with a sprained ankle against the Packers, he still reflected on the game saying, ‘I wasn’t good enough.’ His teammates might not have bought into his brand yet, but he is, by all accounts, a smart kid who truly wants to win. Sure, naysayers will assert that his lack of preparedness early in the season is a red flag, and I won’t say that it necessarily isn’t. But, let me ask you this: were you good at your first job at the age of 22? Did you put in the required work each and every day without being distracted by your new surroundings or the new paycheck coming your way? I know I wasn’t. In some ways I still am not. The young man is human, and in my opinion, if he is excited about the game of football, he works hard, and he genuinely WANTS to work for his teammates respect and galvanize a down-trodden franchise, then mental physical deficiencies are all that can hold him back.
Speaking of mental/physical deficiencies...while I don’t think Haskins is a prototypical quarterback, he both a) has the requisite skills to be a productive NFL passer and b) has shown incremental improvements that demonstrate he can learn from each snap under center. As I stated previously, Haskins’ low completion percentage is because of inconsistent mechanics. While this isn’t ideal, it’s far better than RGIII’s death sentence in his lack of anticipation. Haskins actually anticipates very well, as you can see him recognizing a winning route; he just often hesitates and is late on throws. When Haskins trusts his instincts, he has thrown some BEAUTIFUL balls before his receiver is even beginning his break. In contrast, young quarterbacks that lack anticipation wait on throws until a player is wide open, which results in high sack rate, low completion rate, and a high interception rate. Haskins gets it; but just like a student learning requisite math skills, hesitation and failure come with trudging forward in the density of rigorous learning.
Possibly the biggest feather in Haskins’ cap is his success in two-minute drills. Why Callahan/O’Connell don’t put the rookie quarterback in no-huddle more often eludes me, but he inarguably excels in these situations. Against the Packers, Haskins engineered a late drive that ended in a touchdown in which he went 6/7 for 75 yards and a bucket in only 1:17. For all of you clamoring that the Packers were in prevent...they were not. The Packers only played quarters coverage on one out of the seven downs and ran a ‘buzz’ or inverted look on 5 of the remaining six. Buzz concepts show two high safeties pre-snap before one drops into shallow coverage while inverted looks are hard to read as the corners drop into deep coverage to replace the safeties while the safeties cover the underneath middle. Suffice to say; the Packers were NOT in prevent-Haskins just torched them. In addition to this drive, Haskins also put together a strong two-minute drive at the end of the first half against Carolina and led two touchdown drives late in the fourth quarter against a still-blitzing Jets team.
The fact that Haskins excels in two-minute situations demonstrates that he is still learning the game and that defensive substitutions/shifts from play-to-play baffle him at times. In hurry-up, the defense must stick with current personnel and don’t often make many shifts or scheme changes from play to play. This gives Haskins the opportunity to understand the defense pre-snap and get the ball out quickly. He shows rhythm and timing that he lacks on out-routes and in-breaking routes from the slot as well as losing his extra hitch on deeper throws. If a quarterback can make the correct adjustments at the line, read the field effectively, and throw the ball with accuracy/on time in a two-minute drill, why shouldn’t he be able to develop into a passer that can do all of the above outside of the safety of a hurry-up offense?
Many of you have hated me for criticizing Haskins when he looks bad, and many of you have called me crazy when I am impressed, but the fact is that he does both in every game. On the field, statistics-wise, he is clearly NOT on his way to being a franchise signal caller. In fact, I can’t find a single statistic to point to and trust in when it comes to Haskins’ future. However, the exact opposite can be said about the rookie’s intangibles both off the field and on. In the end, you have to decide for yourself what you think of him. Or don’t. I know I won’t decide for a while. Unfortunately for the new GM/coach that (hopefully) comes into town, they don’t have the luxury of time. Those two men can’t watch the tape and say what we so often hear; ‘Haskins has shown some things to build on.’ If the new regime isn’t going to bring in a new signal caller in the top five picks of 2020 NFL Draft, they better be saying...with tears in their eyes and a fire in their hearts…
‘That’s my quarterback.’
Thanks for reading! Please follow me on Twitter @Kennedy_Paynter and also at Drafttek.com where you will find a five-round simulated draft and comments by yours truly, among others, each week! Happy Holidays!