ASHBURN, Va. -- The present doesn't look good, so the 1-8 Washington Redskins have turned to the future. Interim coach Bill Callahan named rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins as the starter for the rest of the season.
Haskins already was expected to start Sunday versus the New York Jets as Washington returns from its bye week. But Callahan took it one step further.
"We're at a juncture where we don't want to be record-wise," Callahan said, "so this is a good opportunity for him to take advantage of every rep so we can see growth in his play."
Haskins, the 15th overall pick in the draft, made his first start in a Nov. 3 loss at Buffalo -- but that opportunity arose because Keenum was in the concussion protocol. Haskins joins the other two first-round rookie quarterbacks -- Arizona's Kyler Murray (first overall) and the New York Giants' Daniel Jones (sixth) -- as permanent starters.
Haskins did not star in that 24-9 loss to the Bills, but he did enough well to justify keeping him in the lineup. He completed 15 of 22 passes for 144 yards but no interceptions. However, in 44 pass attempts covering 8½ quarters, Haskins has yet to throw a touchdown pass.
The Redskins did not want to rush Haskins into the lineup, having said publicly and privately since the draft that he would take time to develop. For many in the organization, the best-case scenario was for him to sit all year.
But that plan was derailed for multiple reasons: Keenum was learning a new offense and struggled as the team lost playmakers; McCoy had issues while recovering from a broken leg in December; and Washington kept losing. One veteran said after the Buffalo game that while players might prefer one of the other quarterbacks, they would understand going with Haskins because of their record.
There had been some issues with Haskins calling plays in the huddle during his first two outings. Players said he was much improved in that area against Buffalo and one member of the organization said he was as "locked in" as they'd seen him leading into that game. Haskins said getting all the reps throughout the week made a big difference. He displayed the poise in the pocket that he showed when the team scouted him at Ohio State. And his arm talent was evident on several throws.
"Whenever he has the full repetitions during practice, he'll get better just like any quarterback or any player," Callahan said. "I don't think you can duplicate those reps on scout team. Getting in the heat of the preparation and really intensifying the preparation is a huge part of [playing] quarterback, not only that but the ability to execute under pressure. Those factors are huge and it's something I thought he did pretty well getting ready for Buffalo."
The day after that loss, Callahan said he wanted to wait to officially name Haskins the starter, but the decision was made soon thereafter. He credited Haskins' consistency as one of the reasons.
"His progressions were clean, he was decisive," Callahan said. "He had the arm talent to cut the air in bad weather and we're getting into that phase of the year where the elements are playing a factor. It's really important to have arm strength and he needs the experience."
Haskins was not available for comment Monday. His teammates were hopeful that he could build upon the positives he showed against the Bills.
"It helps to have a full week of preparation where you're the starter," receiver Trey Quinn said. "I know you're supposed to be ready for every situation, but it does something mentally, especially when you have someone telling you you're the guy. You can see that in him. Just another week under his belt should be even better."