Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. summed up in a couple of short sentences what he took away from his second start for the Washington Redskins.
It was another tough and unrewarding day for the Redskins, but Haskins took some positive steps in leadership and production in last week’s 34-17 loss at home to the New York Jets.
Haskins connected on two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. They were the first two of Haskins’ career, and they ended a streak of 16 quarters without a touchdown for the Redskins.
Haskins’ late TD passes represented one of the few bright spots in the Redskins’ fourth straight loss that dropped them to 1-9 heading into Sunday’s home game against the Detroit Lions.
What were Haskins’ takeaways from the game?
“Life is hard,” he said. “But got to work harder.”
Life is hard, indeed, for the Redskins and everyone connected with the franchise. Once one of the NFL’s cornerstone franchises with three Super Bowl championships from the 1982 season to 1991 and a loyal fan base, the Redskins have fallen on hard times.
At the end of the 2019 season they will have had only five winning seasons in 20 years.
And they’ll also have a search for a new head coach. Jay Gruden was fired after the fifth game, with an 0-5 record, and replaced on an interim basis by Bill Callahan, the offense line coach and assistant head coach.
The coaching situation, rebuilding the offense and the overall state of the franchise are the key issues facing the franchise, as follows:
Offense: It is difficult to project much from the rubble of this season, but the Redskins drafted Haskins in the first round out of Ohio State to be a building block. He is one in a trio of young players who could form the future core of the offense.
Running back Derrius Guice was a second-round pick out of LSU in 2018. He missed all of his rookie season because of an injury and has been active for only the last two games.
In two games Guice has 42 yards rushing on 17 carries and 65 receiving yards on four games. That includes a 45-yard jaunt with a screen pass for a TD against the Jets.
Guice could be the heir apparent for Adrian Peterson, who leads the team with 516 yards and has a pair of 100-yard rushing games.
Wide receiver Terry McLaurin, a third-round pick out of Ohio State this year, looks like a draft bargain. He has 35 catches for 566 yards, five touchdowns and an average of 16.2 yards per catch. McLaurin had three catches for 69 yards, with a long catch of 41 yards in the fourth quarter.
He also had a 67-yard reception that was called back on a penalty.
“They’re all three talented players,” Callahan said in a conference-call interview. “They’re young. They’re developing – growing, learning, understanding the day-to-day nature of the National Football League, how to compete on a consistent level week in and week out.”
Haskins played in only two of the first eight games, giving rise to speculation that the coaching staff considered him a disappointment. He had four interceptions out of 22 pass attempts.
Haskins has started the last two games. He has completed 34 of 57 passes for 358 yards, two TDs and one interception. He has been sacked 10 times.
“I think he’s doing the best he can,” Callahan said. “For all of our team, we’re all rallying around him. We’re all trying to get better.”
Meet this week's opponents, the Washington Redskins.
Coach status: Gruden was fired after the 0-5 start, and with a record of 35-45 for the previous five full regular seasons.
Callahan is a long-time NFL and college assistant with head coaching experience with the Raiders (2002-03) and Nebraska (2004-07). There appear to be no illusions about him being a candidate for the job after this year.
“I just tried to be honest, consistent and fair, and let them know that I’m here to help them win,” he said of his approach after taking over. “This can’t be about me. This is about our team and what I can do to help our team win.”
The franchise: The Redskins franchise used to be the king of Washington’s pro sports franchises, but not any longer.
While they’ve been sinking down the ladder, the Nationals won the 2019 World Series. The Capitals won the 2018 Stanley Cup and currently lead the NHL in points.