- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2019

LANDOVER — As Dwayne Haskins walked on the grass of FedEx Field following Washington’s 20-7 loss Thursday to the Baltimore Ravens, he exchanged pleasantries with Robert Griffin III. It was a brief meeting of the Redskins’ future and past — both first-round quarterbacks taken with the hope they would resurrect the franchise.

Griffin hugged Haskins, patted him on his shoulder pads and told him to stay focused.

“You’ll be a ball player,” said Griffin, who is now a backup in Baltimore. “I see it in you.”

“It means a lot for me hearing that from him,” Haskins said later.

Unlike Griffin, a starter from Day 1, Haskins will have to wait before he ultimately gets his turn to lead the Redskins. With the preseason done, the 22-year-old must learn behind veteran Case Keenum as Washington shifts to its Week 1 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s a situation Haskins has been in before — he sat for two years at Ohio State — but one difficult to navigate nonetheless.



The Redskins understand fans will call for Haskins to take over if Keenum struggles at any point in the regular season. Coach Jay Gruden, too, acknowledged Keenum must perform to keep his job. How long will it be until a change is made? 

Standing against a wall inside the Redskins’ locker room, Haskins said he is going to still prepare as if he’s the starting quarterback.

That’s just how he operates, he said.

“I know I can play,” Haskins said. “The biggest thing is (to) keep progressing as far as getting to the line of scrimmage, calling the play fast and calling it right and precise and make sure the guys hear me, have great body language on and off the field. … Just keep building.”

In his first — and only — start of the preseason, Haskins built upon his previous performances. The quarterback played with a certain confidence, and admitted that knowing he’d be the starter for this week helped put him at ease. Haskins knew he could have fun and be a leader.

At his best, Haskins is a passer who can stand tall and dissect from the pocket — and that’s exactly what he did against the Ravens. In the first quarter, Haskins and the Redskins marched down the field as Haskins completed four straight attempts that ended in a 7-yard touchdown strike to Steven Sims.

The drive was particularly impressive for a few reasons. First, Haskins found his rhythm and was effective. Further, Haskins‘ strength increasingly appears to be recognizing defenses — such as when he noticed a free blitzing defender, remained calm and delivered a perfect throw to tight end J.P. Holtz for a 24-yard gain. Repeatedly, Haskins‘ coaches praise him for his composure, and it does seem like the quarterback hardly gets rattled.

Overall, Haskins finished with 104 yards, completing 58 percent (10 of 17) of his passes. He had a 96.2 quarterback rating.  

“He was good, had good energy,” said Gruden, who pulled Haskins after the first half. “Communicated the offense well to others, made some nice plays. … I have to check out the film, but I am happy for him the way he played today.”

Gruden now wants Haskins to build on his performance. Even without the quarterback possibly seeing game action anytime soon, Gruden stressed Haskins must learn every game plan and every wrinkle added to the team’s playbook throughout the season. Haskins may not receive as many reps, but he can still prepare.

Haskins said he wasn’t surprised when he learned Keenum was going to be Washington’s starting quarterback. After all, the rookie rarely received first-team reps — especially as the summer progressed. Gruden’s announcement Sunday was just a formality.

Despite Haskins not winning the job, the Redskins are still high on their rookie. On draft night, Gruden said Haskins would need to be developed — and they’ve been pleased with how he has progressed in that regard.

Haskins seems to be embracing his journey.

“I may not be the starter right now,” Haskins said, “but I may be one day.”

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