Shanahan: "I actually thought he played very well against Carolina!”

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The Washington Redskins are 3-9 and face the Green Bay Packers later today. Remarkably, Washington is just three games out of first place in the NFC East with four games to play, including one each against Dallas and Philadelphia. But while some may be focused on the most ridiculous possibility of a playoff berth in NFL history, the focus of this team should still remain on rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins over the final month of the season.

Last week, Haskins made his fourth career start, and while the numbers weren’t great, the Redskins won their second game in a row and Haskins did several things well.

Others around the league, including a name very familiar to Redskins’ fans, noticed. Former Washington head coach Mike Shanahan joined The Kevin Sheehan Show on the Team 980 last week and offered some of his initial thoughts on the play of Haskins.

While Shanahan said he wasn’t initially impressed with Haskins in his first three starts for what he said was inconsistency, he really liked him in the win over Carolina last week.

“I actually thought he played very well against Carolina,” Shanahan said. “You know he seemed like he was pretty poised, made some plays and you can see his big arm. Very strong, he was able to move around a little bit more and still keep his feet and still be able to deliver the ball so I think it’ll be great for the Redskins to be able to evaluate him over the next four games.”

Shanahan saw what many fans and analysts saw. He is still missing some things, but getting better each week. And one area where Haskins is underrated is his ability to get first downs with his legs. The rookie has also shown poise in the pocket when things break down by keeping his eyes downfield instead of panicking and making a bad decision.

Many Washington fans will scoff at anything Shanahan says. They shouldn’t. A true offensive innovator, Shanahan knows quarterbacks and has no reason to say anything positive about the Redskins or Haskins. Yet, he admitted he saw some things he liked.

That’s encouraging. More importantly, that’s growth. For any rookie quarterback, you want to see them improve each week and not repeat the same mistakes. That’s been the recent trend with Haskins. He still hasn’t had a breakout performance, but he’s helped lead the Redskins to two consecutive wins.

As the former head coach said, the final month should be all about evaluating Haskins. Continue to put him in favorable positions, yet see how he responds when things don’t go as well. That is critical. Early indications are that Haskins doesn’t get bothered by too much. The Redskins want to see him grow as a leader, too, without forcing it.

Don’t print your playoff tickets as this team isn’t going to the postseason dance. Instead, sit back and focus on the young play-makers on this team, especially the young quarterback, Derrius Guice and Terry McLaurin. This final month is critical for the Redskins as they are set to ramp up their search for a new head coach. And, the better Haskins looks over the final month, the more attractive this job could become, if, you know, a certain team president is longer around to lead the search. 

Bryan Manning has covered the NFL, MLB, NBA, college football and college basketball for almost 10 years for various outlets such as Bleacher Report, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today SMG, and others. Bryan has covered the Washington Redskins for different outlets and currently co-hosts a podcast on the Virginia Tech Hokies for SB Nation. For his day job, Bryan works in engineering for a major communications company. 

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