- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 27, 2020

Dwayne Haskins hadn’t had a game like this in a while. Not since his ugly pro debut, anyway.

But there was no sugar coating the Washington quarterback’s performance on Sunday: He was bad. Really bad.

Haskins had four turnovers — three interceptions and one fumble — in Washington’s 34-20 loss to the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. All four resulted in scores for Cleveland. All four in Washington territory.

Haskins‘ three interceptions were his most since his debut last season, when he was thrown into action in the middle of a September loss against the New York Giants. Each throw was a problem. One was too high. The other was too predictable. The last was the product of poor technique.

As a result, Washington fell to 1-2 on the season. Growing pains were to be expected, but Sunday’s loss was frustrating for Washington for a variety of reasons. Chase Young got hurt. So did Matt Ioannidis. The defense couldn’t contain Cleveland’s lethal running game with backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

The main story, however, was Haskins. He finished with 206 yards on 21 of 37 passing. Haskins threw for two touchdowns, but they didn’t erase the turnovers.

Washington knew the importance of getting off to a better start on Sunday. Entering the matchup, the team was outscored 24-0 in the first quarter — the second-worst mark in the NFL. Of its 13 drives in the first half through two games, only one resulted in a touchdown. The team had punted 10 times, lost a fumble and missed a field goal. Against the Browns, coaches and players understood a fast start was crucial.

To fix the problems, Washington concocted a game plan aimed at taking advantage of Haskins‘ strengths: Move the ball fast, make quick throws, push the pace. The strategy looked sound early. While Washington punted on its first drive, it moved the ball to midfield and got numerous playmakers involved.

Then on its the next series, Haskins found a rhythm. He hit Terry McLaurin, who ran it in space for 21 yards. He found Isiah Wright for a short gain. Then, Haskins had his best throw of the first half: A 17-yard dime to Dontrelle Inman in the end zone.

But Washington’s momentum would not last. Instead, Washington unraveled — starting with an injury to Chase Young in the second quarter. The rookie pass-rusher came up limping and was quickly ruled out with a groin injury.

Washington’s offense, too, soon fell apart. Haskins overthrew a horrendous pass to ta covered Logan Thomas that landed right into the hands of Browns safety Karl Joseph, who returned it for 43 yards.

Cleveland capitalized on the turnover. Chubb cut back on a misdirection play from Washington’s 16-yard line, causing safety Landon Collins and Troy Apke to miss as he danced to the end zone.

With Washington trailing 10-7, Haskins made matters worse. On his very next throw, the 23-year-old stared down Inman the entire time as linebacker Malcolm Smith jumped the route to return it to Washington’s 24-yard line. The turnover was Haskins‘ second interception of the afternoon, his most since his debut when he threw three picks in a loss against the New York Giants.

Washington trailed 17-7 at the half. It temporarily took the lead in the second half, leading 20-17. But Cleveland answered back with two touchdowns and a field goal.

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