Skip to main content

Troubling Details Emerge From Dwayne Haskins' Time In Washington

Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins on the field.

LANDOVER, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 27: Dwayne Haskins #7 of the Washington Football Team reacts against the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter at FedExField on December 27, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)

Dwayne Haskins, the No. 15 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, has already flamed out of his first NFL team. The Washington Football Team made the decision on Monday, after Haskins was pulled during a disappointing start against the Carolina Panthers.

After taking over as the starter midway through his rookie year in 2019, Washington Football Team hired Ron Rivera as its new head coach last offseason. He was clearly not married to Haskins as the team's quarterback of the future, but the second-year player out of Ohio State was still the starter to begin the year. He fell out of favor pretty quickly.

By Week 5, Haskins was out of the starting job. Alex Smith, who has miraculously returned from the devastating injuries suffered a few years ago, took over the job and immediately led the team into the playoff hunt. As he's been out with a calf injury, Haskins had another chance to impress over the last three weeks. He didn't exactly take it.

On Sunday, Haskins was pulled against the Panthers after going 14-for-28 for 154 yards and two interceptions. Rivera turned to former Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who gave the team a boost, going 12-for-19 for 137 yards and a touchdown. That ultimately doomed Haskins, who now faces the steep climb back from "major NFL Draft bust." A day later, and some of the troubling patterns that led to Haskins falling out of favor with the franchise are coming to the surface.

As Les Carpenter outlines in the Washington Post, owner Dan Snyder was the major factor in the team taking Haskins, overruling Bruce Allen in part because of Dwayne Haskins, a Maryland native, being a local star. Haskins had plenty to overcome, with a coaching change between his two seasons, and all of the other strife within the Washington Football Team franchise, but by all accounts, he didn't help himself one bit.

Mostly, though, his Washington tenure was filled with odd incidents such as missing the final snap of his first NFL victory because he was taking selfies with fans, or the photos that emerged last week of him partying maskless, a violation of league coronavirus protocols. There were loads of complaints by frustrated coaches on two staffs who were stunned by his constant late arrivals to meetings, failure to master the playbook and refusal to prepare for games as diligently as NFL quarterbacks must. Several around the organization questioned his ability to lead and repeatedly said poor throws in practice would carry over into games.

[...]

What annoyed members of both (former Washington coach Jay) Gruden’s and Rivera’s staffs, people familiar with their thinking say, is that Haskins was not rude or indifferent. They never described a player who was arrogant, despite such suggestions outside team headquarters. Instead, they seemed confused as to why he wouldn’t do the things most quarterbacks do instinctively — arrive early to the team facility, sit for hours in meetings and study opponents deep into the night. He had a sharp mind and grasped plays quickly but had trouble applying them in games. Some of the coaches blamed this on a lack of preparation.

The photos of a maskless Haskins at a club just hours after the team's Week 15 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, which led to a $40,000 and the removal of his team captaincy, wasn't quite the straw that broke the camel's back, but he clearly needed to show something in Week 16. Instead, he struggled once again, and finished his two-year Washington Football Team tenure with a 3-10 record, and few bright flashes to show for it.

Carpenter's piece makes it clear that the team believes that Haskins is talented, and has rare arm strength, something that may have contributed to his bad habits in preparation. No one has the kind of arm talent to get by on it alone in the NFL, though. Hopefully Dwayne Haskins gets another shot and puts in the work necessary to live up to that potential, but based on this piece, it is pretty understandable that Rivera just wanted a new start at the position without the distraction of the former first round pick that has the owner enamored hanging around.

[Washington Post]