The curious case of Dwayne Haskins

by Woodland Crisfield

After two seasons with the Washington Football Team, Dwayne Haskins future as a starting quarterback remains uncertain. (Photo: AP.)

Dwayne Haskins’ tenure as a Washington quarterback came to an unceremonious conclusion on December 28, 2020, when the second-year signal caller was released by the Football Team a day after his benching in their 20-13 defeat by the Carolina Panthers.

Shortly after his release, Haskins wrote in a tweet: "My time with the WFT has unfortunately come to an end. I thank the team and fans for the opportunity to play for the team I grew up rooting for. I take full responsibility for not meeting the standards of [an] NFL QB, and I will become a better man and player because of this experience."

Haskins, drafted 15th overall out of Ohio State in 2019, was once seen as the future quarterback for Washington. So where did it all go astray?

Many have surmised that the event that caused his December 28 release occurred a week prior. Hours after a loss to Seattle, he was photographed partying maskless at his girlfriend’s birthday party with a group of strippers. Haskins was fined $40,000 by Washington and stripped of his captaincy position. It would be his second violation of COVID-19 protocols as earlier in the season he was fined for reserving a hotel room for a family friend at the Football Team’s hotel after a game in New York.

These reckless acts could perhaps have been forgiven if Haskins had been performing at a consistent level, but his 50% completion percentage and his 36.9 QBR, with two interceptions and no touchdowns during the Panthers game, would prove otherwise.

Washington head coach Ron Rivera encouraged Haskins to learn from the experience, telling the media: "Sometimes you have to go through some hard knocks. Sometimes you have to reach rock bottom before you can dig your way back out of it. Sometimes change helps. But with Dwayne, it's, 'What have you learned?' What are you going to take from these experiences that are going to help you grow and get better? That's the big thing with him."

Haskins started the first four games of the 2020 season but was demoted to the third string behind the free agent Kyle Allen, and veteran Alex Smith after Washington fell 31-17 to Baltimore. After the Baltimore game, Haskins touted on social media that it was his first 300-yard passing game, while coaches said that his preparation fell short of the standard for NFL starting quarterbacks.

Many in the media have also asserted that Haskins’ demise in Washington wasn’t completely his fault, as being drafted by one of the most dysfunctional franchises in the NFL wouldn't help his development as a passer. Through two seasons Haskins had to pick up drastically different offensive philosophies, while being coached by three different offensive coordinators and two head coaches.

Despite passing for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns in his lone starting season at Ohio State, Haskins' time in Washington got off to a rough start as then Washington head coach Jay Gruden seemed disinterested in developing the young quarterback.

There were also murmurs that the Washington front office didn't want to draft him to begin with, but that would be overridden by team owner Dan Snyder who wanted Haskins, a well known name locally who starred at Bullis High School in nearby Potomac, MD, where Snyder’s son attends.

Haskins finished his career in Washington having thrown for 2,804 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions for a total QBR of 29.4 (the league average during that time was 63.5) while winning 3 of his 13 starts over the past two seasons.

Rivera remained optimistic about Haskins’ future, telling the media, "Well, like I've always said, you watch his talent and you see the arm," Rivera said. "That's the thing that I think is his most redeeming quality as a quarterback, [and] which I think is probably the most important thing."

While he didn’t live up to his potential in Washington, Haskins will get an opportunity to showcase his arm strength in Pittsburgh, having signed with the Steelers on Thursday, January 21.

Despite his recklessness Washington’s Alex Smith still had high praise for Haskins, telling NBC Sports Washington: “Certainly, there was a lot working against him the last two years that didn’t allow him to reach his potential,” Smith continued. “He’s a guy who’s crazy gifted. Crazy talented. And, he’s a good kid.”

Haskins' obsession with a celebrity lifestyle, took away from his ability to focus on developing as a quarterback, and would ultimately be what led to his demise in Washington.