(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
It's no secret that Dwayne Haskins had an abysmal second season with the Washington Football Team. The first-round pick was released after violating Covid-19 protocols for the second time compounded by his poor play on the field. Haskins ended the season with 5 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and 1,439 yards while completing 61.4% of his passes.
Still, his one year deal with the Steelers is a low-risk move. With Big Ben likely returning, Haskins and Mason Rudolph will push each other for the backup role while the coaching staff gets a full season to evaluate Haskins in their own building.
No, this signing does not indicate that Haskins is the QB of the future. But it does mean that the organization feels like he has a chance to develop under their tutelage.
What does his tape tell us?
Haskins possesses good NFL arm strength and is able to stretch the field when he's given a clean pocket. He's worked to improve his throwing motion since college and it does appear to be tighter than in the past. When he's comfortable Haskins is an accurate passer.
This play was probably his best throw of the season. He does a nice job of holding the safety with his eyes before ripping the ball about 20 yards down the seam for a touchdown. Here's the kind of arm talent that makes the Steelers hopeful.
Haskins displayed his arm talent again the following week with a 39-yard completion to Terry McLaurin in man coverage. Notice how both of these plays came with either 4 or 5 wide, allowing Haskins to view the coverage through a wider lens and (hopefully) get one on one matchups. Good scheme, good accurate ball placement.
Unfortunately for Haskins, there wasn't a whole lot of good beyond this.
Haskins isn't a very athletic player and doesn't seem to have a real feel for how his athleticism plays on an NFL field. It's clear at this point that he lacks pocket presence. On this play he tries to scramble after his first and second progressions are covered and gets thrown down for a loss. The third receiver in the progression appears to be open, but Haskins gives up on the play too soon and does not keep his eyes downfield while he moves. This leads to an unnecessary sack.
Similar problem on this play. Just have to let it go. Haskins got sacked a staggering 20 times in 7 games, and while the offensive line shares the blame, so does Haskins for holding onto the ball too long and trying to extend plays when he isn't that kind of athlete. He simply does not have an adequate feel for pressure.
Haskins' biggest problem is that it appears he has trouble processing what he is seeing pre and post snap. This also contributes to his struggles with pocket presence. Far too often, Haskins stares down his primary read as soon as he receives the snap, which leads to easy breaks on the ball for the defense. It seems like Haskins gets comfortable pre-determining where he's throwing the ball before the play. You can get away with this when you're playing Northwestern, but it isn't going to fly against professional defenses.
Almost all of Haskins interceptions this season occurred because he was telling the defense where the ball was going with his eyes. Notice how he's staring down the target on this play. It's an easy read for the underneath linebacker who sees it coming from a mile away. But because Haskins pre-determined the throw, he never notices him until it's too late.
Same thing on this play. He's going to 89 on the crosser from the jump and makes it WAY too easy for the Cover 3 defender.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, it's hard to knock this move since it's basically a freeroll on a former first round draft pick. Haskins has the arm talent to be a solid NFL quarterback, but he needs to get more comfortable reading defenses and going through progressions. He isn't a great athlete, but the physical tools are there. Hopefully the Steelers coaching staff is able to develop the mental part of Haskins' game. And just as importantly, hopefully, Haskins takes his job more seriously given this could be his last chance in the league.