ASHBURN, Va. — When Dwayne Haskins takes the field for the Washington Redskins’ first offensive snap Sunday at the Buffalo Bills, he’ll be the fourth rookie to start a game in the NFL this season.
Unlike fellow first-round picks Kyle Murray of the Arizona Cardinals and Daniel Jones of the New York Giants, it won’t be because the organization dubbed it Haskins’ time. It’ll be more like Cheap Jacksonville Jaguars Jerseys
sixth-rounder Gardner Minshew, who was thrust into action Week 1 after Nick Foles was injured.
Despite using the 15th overall pick on Haskins in part because he went to high school with owner Dan Snyder’s son, the Redskins — through two coaches now — have been reluctant to hand the keys to him. Journeyman Case Keenum won the starting job out of training camp, when it was obvious Haskins was talented but not ready, and since-fired coach Jay Gruden turned first to longtime backup Colt McCoy.
Keenum’s concussion against Minnesota forced Haskins into his second relief appearance of the season. Interim coach Bill Callahan on Friday named Haskins the starter, but this is certainly not a declaration.
“Case is our quarterback and that’s where we’re rolling right now,” Callahan said this week. “I really believe at the beginning of the year, Case earned the starting quarterback position. He was voted captain by his teammates, certainly deserving, certainly our starting quarterback. So, we’re not confusing the issue here: Case is our starter and if he’s healthy and ready to play this Sunday, he will be going forward.”
With that and plenty of almost fatherly advice from older teammates, Haskins will try to improve on 12 of 22 passing for 140 yards and four interceptions in games against the Giants and Vikings. Asked the next step in his progression, the Ohio State product said: “First start. We’ll see how it goes from there.”
“Every day is a challenge,” Haskins said. “Every game is a challenge. Every time I put my helmet on it’s a challenge. Looking forward to conquering that challenge every day.”
There were times in camp when Haskins showed the rocket arm that threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns last season at Ohio State, along with plenty of evidence he’s more of a long-term project.
Redskins players haven’t been shy to challenge Haskins before, during and after his struggles in limited pro action. Even though running back Adrian Peterson took issue with a report he told Haskins to get his nose in the playbook and prove people wrong who think he doesn’t know plays, he agreed with the assertion that one particular throw against Minnesota wasn’t the rookie’s best.
The NFL season moves at a relentless pace.
Thirteen days ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were reminded of just how fragile the window to contend is when MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes suffered what could have been a devastating knee injury.
Fast-forward two weeks later and Mahomes was a limited participant at Chiefs practice on Wednesday.
Mahomes has yet to be officially ruled out for Sunday’s matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.
While it’s still more likely that Matt Moore starts this week, Chiefs fans are praying that Mahomes can return to full strength and help them contend this season.
In order for that to happen, Kansas City needs to be patient with its star quarterback.
With back-to-back games against a pair of top-10 defences over the next two weeks, it will be very interesting to see if Mahomes returns sooner than expected.
Meanwhile, it will be Tom Brady and the New England Patriots against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in one of the most highly anticipated prime time matchups of the year so far on Sunday Night Football (TSN, CTV2: 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT).
Over the last two weeks, Jackson became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for 100 yards and a touchdown in back-to-back games.
He also joined Michael Vick and Russell Wilson as the only quarterbacks to register three games with at least 100 rushing yards in a single season all-time.
Remember, he still has nine games to add to that total.
In 25 years as a head coach, Bill Belichick’s defences have never allowed a quarterback to run for 95 yards or more in a single game.
Watching Jackson go up against a Patriots defence that is off to a historically incredible start in prime time will be must-see television.
Not to be lost in the shadow of that Sunday Night Football matchup, or any Week 9 matchup for that matter based on their 9:30 AM ET start, the Houston Texans and Cheap Jacksonville Jaguars Jerseys
will clash in the fourth and final NFL London game of the year.
Deshaun Watson ranks sixth in the NFL in big-time throw percentage this season among quarterbacks with at least 215 total pass attempts, per Pro Football Focus.
Who is the quarterback listed two spots ahead of Watson on the list of the best deep ball throwers this season?
Gardner Minshew III.
Watson and Minshew will go head-to-head for the first time on Sunday.
With a win, Minshew could at least temporarily move the Jaguars ahead of Houston in the AFC Wild Card standings – something that would have seemed unthinkable when he took over for an injured Nick Foles in Week 1.
Then again, the NFL moves at a relentless pace.
We are just trying our best to keep up.
With the first eight weeks of regular season football in the books, it seems like we have a large enough sample size to debut my first set of Power Rankings.
Here is a look at my top five teams in each conference heading into Week 9:
AFC Power Rankings
New England Patriots (8-0)
You were expecting somebody else? Right now in the AFC, it’s the perfect Patriots and then everybody else. New England is 8-0 for the third time in franchise history, which means they are guaranteed to finish .500 or better for the 19th consecutive season. The Patriots defence has held opposing quarterbacks to a lower passer rating than either the 2000 Baltimore Ravens or 1985 Chicago Bears, while allowing fewer points per game and fewer total yards per game than either of those defences through eight games. While it’s easy to point to a relatively weak schedule so far, the Patriots’ win streak is actually technically now at 13 in a row dating back to last year’s Super Bowl-winning run. In fact, dating back to the start of the 2018 season New England is now 6-0 against opponents featured in these Power Rankings.
Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
Indianapolis ranks below the Chiefs, Texans and Ravens in DVOA per Football Outsiders, but has already registered wins over Kansas City and Houston to climb ahead of both of those teams in the AFC standings. Jacoby Brissett ranks just 32nd in positively graded throws per Pro Football Focus, with 53.2 per cent of his total passing yards coming after the catch. Still, the Colts have thrived thanks in large part to coaching and some impressive depth on both sides of the football. Indianapolis has earned the No. 2 spot on this list, even if it’s only temporary.
Houston Texans (5-3)
The Texans are 1-2 against opponents in these Power Rankings and 4-1 against everybody else. Houston already beat the Chiefs in Kansas City. The Texans could very well be 6-2 with wins over a couple of teams in these Power Rankings if it wasn’t for the poor game management that cost them in a Week 1 loss to the New Orleans Saints in which Will Lutz made a 58-yard, game-winning field goal in the final minute. J.J. Watt’s season-ending injury hurts. Still, Houston has already proven it can compete with some of the best in the NFL this season.
Kansas City Chiefs (5-3)
Only New England owns a better DVOA than Kansas City in the AFC this season. Still, the difference between the Patriots and Chiefs is a whopping 17.9 per cent. Looking past the injury to Mahomes, there are legitimate concerns about the Kansas City defence and the team’s inability to run the football. While Mahomes is talented enough to make up for those issues when he’s fully healthy, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Chiefs are now 0-4 against the other teams in these Power Rankings dating back to last year’s playoff loss to New England.
Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
The Ravens rank third in the AFC in DVOA behind only the Patriots and Chiefs. Still, Baltimore has just one win over a team with a winning record this season. The Ravens lost to Kansas City in Week 3, then suffered a double-digit defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns in Week 4. Baltimore could certainly move up these rankings with a win over New England on Sunday Night Football. We should get a better idea of how good this Ravens team is over the next five weeks. After all, four of their next five opponents are currently listed in these Power Rankings.
NFC Power Rankings
San Francisco 49ers (7-0)
As is the case with the Patriots, San Francisco can only beat the teams they play. The lone remaining undefeated NFC team ranks first in the NFL in DVOA per Football Outsiders, in large part because of a defence that has allowed a league-low 224.4 total yards per game. The 49ers held the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams to 48 net passing yards in Week 6, then limited the Carolina Panthers to just 100 in Week 8. With four more games against teams in these Power Rankings, San Francisco will get ample opportunities to prove they deserve this ranking.
New Orleans Saints (7-1)
The fact that the Saints are 7-1 despite losing Drew Brees for nearly six full weeks is impressive. Teddy Bridgewater might not have led New Orleans to a Super Bowl win, but he did just enough to keep the Saints in contention for the NFC’s top seed and home field advantage for the playoffs. New Orleans is now 5-0 in one-score games this season. The countdown is on to a Week 14 showdown with the 49ers at the Superdome.
Green Bay Packers (7-1)
It’s been incredible to watch what Aaron Rodgers has done this season in a completely new offence and without his top wide receiver Davante Adams over the past couple of weeks. Still, the Packers have posted only a slightly better DVOA than the Saints have without Brees for the most part this season. Green Bay has only two wins over teams listed in these Power Rankings this season and one of them was last week’s 31-24 victory over the Chiefs without Mahomes. The Packers will travel to San Francisco in Week 12. By the time that game is over, we should have a better idea of where both teams rank in the NFC.
Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
Critics will point to losses to New Orleans, Green Bay and the New York Jets in particular as obvious reasons why Dallas shouldn’t be on this list. However, two of those losses came against teams ranked ahead of the Cowboys in these Power Rankings. When you consider the impact that the return of wide receiver Amari Cooper as well as tackles Tyron Smith and La’El Collins had in last week’s 37-10 win over Philadelphia, it’s a little easier to understand why Dallas struggled without them. The Cowboys still rank second in the NFC in DVOA behind only the 49ers, per Football Outsiders. They are getting healthy just in time for next week’s showdown with the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football.
Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
There was some debate concerning which team deserved the final spot on this list between the Vikings, Seahawks and the Rams. In the end, Minnesota earned this spot based in large part on what it has done over the past four weeks. Following a brutal start to the season that included losses to Green Bay and the Chicago Bears, the Vikings have put together four straight wins, outscoring their opponents by an average of 31.8 to 17.3. Minnesota and Seattle are both 6-2. However, the Seahawks are a missed field goal by Greg Zuerlein away from being 0-3 against opponents listed in these Power Rankings. Plus, four of Seattle’s six wins have been by four points or less, including narrow victories over the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. Considered by many to be their greatest weakness, Kirk Cousins has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL since Week 5. The Vikings have also produced a slightly better DVOA than the Packers, Saints, Seahawks and Rams in the NFC, which helped solidify their spot as the No. 5 team on this list.
“It don’t take a rocket scientist to see that,” Peterson said. “He’s got it incredible arm. He can throw the ball. All he’s got to do is put a little more zip on it, we got a first down, now we’re going for a touchdown. It’s simple things. It’s nothing major.”
Veteran left tackle Donald Penn told Haskins, “try to get in your (play)book.” And linebacker Jon Bostic offered advice along similar lines.
“I’ve talked to him several times,” Bostic said. “I make sure I tell him before every game he should have a notebook on every co-ordinator that he’s playing, regardless if you’re in there or not. Because teams will change, players will change, but co-ordinators won’t. The system is going to be the same. So start learning these guys now. You’re watching and everything. I was like: ‘You should be taking these mental reps on the sidelines and take them seriously. You should be going through every read.’”
Haskins has been getting starting QB snaps at practice since Callahan took over for Gruden, who was criticized for not putting more energy into developing him despite coaching for his job.
After the loss to the Vikings dropped the Redskins to 1-7, Callahan said Haskins could learn some valuable things about game management.
“I think the big thing is situational awareness and knowing where we are at on the field — trajectory of throws, fundamental techniques, those rotations and follow through,” Callahan said. “Getting in and getting out of the huddle, really working the offence at an upbeat tempo where he can have time at the line of scrimmage. Sometimes just not letting the clock run down on him.”
The clock is running down on a lost season in Washington, but Callahan said he’s getting no direction from president Bruce Allen or anyone in the front office about developing players for the future. He has likened Haskins’ situation to Steve Young sitting behind Cheap Jacksonville Jaguars Jerseys
Joe Montana and Aaron Rodgers behind Brett Favre.
Keenum is not a future Hall of Famer, but the Redskins don’t want to hurry Haskins into action before he’s ready, even at the expense of not knowing yet what he can do.
“In all fairness, if we say hey, we are going to put Dwayne in there and see how he does, in some respects, I think he needs a little bit more work,” Callahan said. “I think time is invaluable where he can sit back and learn from quarterbacks like Case and Colt as well as players like (injured QB Alex Smith) who is around the building.
“It is a fine line. We are trying to win games still. Our dynamic is tough and it is challenging. We are doing the best we can in a tough scenario and we are trying to find a way to win a game.”