Interim coach Bill Callahan made the announcement at his press conference after Washington concluded practice. By sticking with Haskins, the Redskins will have the opportunity to evaluate how the 22-year-old performs over the final seven games, starting Sunday against the New York Jets.
“He needs the experience,” Callahan said. “Let’s face it, let’s get Dwayne an opportunity. We’re at a juncture where we don’t want to be record-wise, so this is a good opportunity for him to take advantage of every rep, practice-wise and game-wise, so we can see growth in his play.”
Haskins received his first career start in Week 9 against the Buffalo Bills, filling in for an injured Case Keenum. The first-rounder performed well, throwing for 144 yards. Though Haskins failed to score, the Redskins were impressed by how the rookie commanded the huddle and communicated with his receivers throughout the game. Callahan said he saw consistency in Haskins’ play, adding his progressions were “clean.”
Haskins’ performance, too, was a massive improvement from his first two appearances of the season, when the rookie was thrown in midway against the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings. In each of those games, Haskins struggled with his accuracy and occasionally failed to call out the right plays.
His outings were a reason why the Redskins had been reluctant to turn to Haskins full time, stating his need to develop. Washington stressed patience from the moment they selected him 15th overall in April, pointing to the fact he started just one year at Ohio State.
The Redskins, though, believe Haskins has made positive strides, particularly when given a full week to prepare. Against the Bills, Keenum was ruled out with a concussion and Haskins took the majority of the practice reps for the first time this season.
“We want to see a consistent progression in his play,” Callahan said. “We want to expand the playbook. I think we’ll do that going forward. How much? We’ll see. We face an opponent this week in (Jets defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams that has a pretty big inventory of pressures and looks and disguises that he’s going to have to deal with.
“I think it’s a great challenge for him. It’s a huge test.”
With Haskins the starter, Keenum will become the backup and McCoy will be the third-string quarterback. Callahan said he chose to not name Haskins the starter at the bye week because he wanted to tell the veterans of his decision first.
Despite the switch at quarterback, Washington still plans on committing heavily to the run. Since the Redskins fired former coach Jay Gruden, the Redskins have run the ball nearly 52% of the time under Callahan, which ranks third in that span. Callahan also emphasized the importance of running the football Monday and keeping Haskins protected by his offensive line.
The Redskins also plan for running back Derrius Guice to play this week after activating him to the 53-man roster last week. Guice, 22, won the running back competition in training camp, but tore his meniscus in a Week 1 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins expect Guice and veteran Adrian Peterson to ease Haskins’ burden to the NFL.
Second-year wide receiver Trey Quinn said the final seven games are an opportunity for the team’s younger pieces, such as Haskins, himself and Guice, to develop.
Quinn said he has seen growth “everywhere” in Haskins from his time in training camp to now.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him grow because he’s definitely a talent,” Quinn said. “The sky is the limit for him right now. It’s just up to him to take the extra time and learn on his own.”
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