- The Washington Times
Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Washington Redskins begin every quarterback meeting with a test. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner gives quizzes to see if their his signal-callers are retaining information. It’s an easy way to gauge if they get his offense, he said.

They’ve been no sweat for Dwayne Haskins.

“You can tell he’s putting the work in away from the meeting time, and he’s working at it and doing as much as he can,” Turner said.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday over Zoom, Turner said Haskins was doing a “great job” of learning Washington’s new offense. With Haskins entering his second year, the Redskins expect Haskins to take a major step forward with his development. It starts with grasping the system, and Turner said Haskins is doing that.

During meetings, which are four times per week and last for two hours, Haskins will answer questions from his coaches while analyzing game film, Turner said. They’ve asked him to identify coverages and explain concepts. Turner said Haskins can properly relay why things are happening — why a safety was going to rotate down in coverage because of where the weakside linebacker was lined up, for instance.

Just as encouraging, Haskins will refer back to information discussed a few days earlier.

“When you can have that dialogue and they can give you the correct answer and are repeating the things that you talked about in earlier sessions,” Turner said, “that is when you know it is really starting to click.”

Turner said Haskins isn’t always perfect, but added “that happens with everyone.” Still, Haskins‘ understanding of the system will be key as the Redskins look to improve upon an offense that ranked among the league’s worst last year. Washington averaged just 16.6 points and 175.8 passing yards per game — dead last in each category.

At times in 2019, Haskins faced questions of whether he truly knew the playbook. The 23-year-old didn’t start until Week 9 and before then, the Redskins‘ coaching staff said Haskins needed more time to be ready. Reports emerged that Haskins‘ knowledge was holding him back.

After Ron Rivera was hired, the new Redskins coach didn’t immediately commit to Haskins, either. The Redskins have made it clear they want Haskins to earn his spot, bringing in Kyle Allen to compete in training camp and avoiding heavy praise for the 2019 first-rounder.

When Turner watches Haskins‘ film, he said he sees a quarterback whose game doesn’t need an overhaul. Turner noted Haskins‘ pocket presence, how he was able to keep his eyes down the field even as the pocket started to break. He also saw it firsthand when Haskins led the Redskins to a victory over the Panthers when Turner was in Carolina last year.

“You are going to make money in this league by standing in there and making throws down the field when it is tough,” Turner said. “He has shown enough of that.”

The objective now is to build on Haskins‘ game, Turner said. At the moment, the Redskins are in the process of installing their offense. Turner said the learning is broken up by play types and situations. A run play will be followed by a play-action play that looks like that run, for example.

For the quarterback room, Turner said the goal is for each player to understand the objective of each play and what Washington is trying to accomplish. The group always meets at 1 p.m. in part because of the time difference with quarterback Alex Smith living in Hawaii this offseason.

Haskins‘ improvement, of course, won’t come solely down to knowing the playbook. He’ll be judged on his accuracy and consistency, among other things. Haskins will need to be in sync with his receivers, something he’s worked on even as Washington’s practice facility has been shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The quarterback has uploaded pictures and videos of him throwing passes to receivers Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon, and on Wednesday, he was seen in videos throwing to Antonio Brown, Stefon Diggs and Chad Johnson. Haskins has said he’s also in better physical shape, dropping 11 pounds and 7% body fat.

Turner said he’s seen the images, too.

“Obviously as a coach and with me, coming in new and putting in this new offense I’d love to have more time with him but it is what it is,” Turner said. “I think that we’re doing a great job with making the most of the situation.”

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