Snider on Haskins: "He Stared at Targets Like a Nearly-Blind Mr. Magoo"
Dwayne Haskins isn’t looking at the bench, but the Washington Football Team quarterback might see a pink slip come season’s end if repeating his dismal performance against the Cleveland Browns any more this season.
Washington lost a winnable game at Cleveland on Sunday. They were even ahead 20-17 late into the third quarter. But Haskins threw three interceptions plus a fumble for 24 Browns points. Suddenly, Twitter trolls have pitchforks and Haskins is their Tweetstorm.
Sure, Haskins threw two touchdowns, but mostly it was a miserable effort. He completed 21 of 37 for 224 yards with a 58.8 rating. Conversely, Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield was 16 of 23 with two touchdowns and a 117.3 rating. It’s not hard to see the difference in the game.
That Haskins played poorly isn’t the whole story. Indeed, plenty of teammates didn’t have good games as the Browns roared for 34 points. Yes, Washington’s defense was faced with short-field situations, but it still didn’t stop Cleveland from running freely to the goal line. Kicker Dustin Hopkins missed a key extra point. The offensive line suffered plenty of my-bad moments.
Haskins’ mistakes were magnified by his mechanics. He stared at targets like a nearly-blind Mister Magoo mistaking a lamp post for a police officer in his myopic fog. Defenders raced across the field to intercept passes they knew were coming long before Haskins released the ball. That’s a rookie mistake for a second-year player.
Haskins claimed he wasn’t staring, just trying to split defenders. Even if true, it was poor judgment. He doesn’t have pinpoint accuracy. Indeed, Haskins twice overthrew Terry McLaurin in the end zone before getting his third try right to Dontrelle Inman. Haskins seems to think he has Olympic jumpers who can sky high for balls.
Coach Ron Rivera says he’s sticking with Haskins. After all, the latter has only 10 career games. He can play better. Coaches can call a better game to match the passer’s skillset. Indeed, offensive coordinator Scott Turner called short passes to running backs in the third quarter for some brief success.
But, the truth is Washington will only be as good as Haskins plays. The defense can keep the team in most games, though it failed this time. But if Haskins can’t stop throwing to the opposing team and polish his passes, then losing will become the norm and the offseason could bring another quarterback change.
After all, Rivera inherited Haskins, but he doesn’t have to keep him if the latter doesn’t show improvement come December. The coach has enough clout to demand picking his own passer. Owner Dan Snyder was the one who wanted Haskins, but even he’ll relent to the coach just like Snyder did when coach Jay Gruden benched Robert Griffin III.
Haskins has some things you can’t teach like an indifference to criticism. But, he needs to study up on improving his throws and hiding his eyes from opposing secondaries. Otherwise, Rivera’s patience isn’t unlimited. The bench always has space for another poor passer.
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Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Washington football team in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks