Dwayne Haskins or Case Keenum: A QB dilemma in Washington

Up until November 2018 the Washington Redskins believed that they had their quarterback for the foreseeable future. Then in a cruel twist of fate, Alex Smith suffered a horrible leg break and the Redskins suddenly had a dilemma on their hands. Instead of feeling set at the position the Washington Redskins had a QB taking up a huge chunk of their cap who would likely not take a meaningful snap in 2019. This led them really dive into the upcoming draft class, in order to try and find a quarterback to lead their team. Owning the 15th pick they probably never thought that Dwayne Haskins who had previously been described as the best quarterback in this draft class, and who had finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, would slip all the way down to them. Especially given that you could argue there were five teams ahead of them in need of a quarterback:

Arizona Cardinals: Kliff Kingsbury was obviously not completely sold on Josh Rosen.

Oakland Raiders: Jon Gruden and Derek Carr didn’t exactly have a great first season together finishing 4-12. Many people were questioning how strong their relationship was.

New York Giants: Eli Manning’s time had been up for a couple of years in New York and it was time for them to move on from the potential future hall of famer.

Cincinnati Bengals: After a number of losing seasons in a row, no-one could have blamed the Bengals hierarchy for replacing Andy Dalton.

Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill was the starter at the end of the 2018 season, and the ship had sailed on him as a franchise leading quarterback.

The Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants were always taking quarterbacks and the Redskins likely had to expect it would be Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins. Therefore, when the Giants handed in their card for the sixth overall pick, and it was Daniel Jones, the Redskins front office must have been delighted, and I’m sure slightly in shock. So, with that 15th pick they got Dwayne Haskins coming off a record setting college year. However, Haskins’ rookie year has been anything but simple, and still the Redskins refuse to commit to their first round rookie publicly.


After finishing High School at Bullis High, Haskins left with 5308 passing yards and a total of 54 touchdowns to his name. Haskins then elected to join The Ohio State University and play for Urban Meyer. After being red-shirted in his first year, Haskins first graced the field in 2017 as the back up to JT Barrett. He finished that season completing 40 of 57 passes for 565 yards and 4 touchdowns. Meyer liked what he saw in Haskins and in 2018 Haskins was named as a starter. What a season he would end up having.

Dwayne Haskins

Haskins only played one full season as a starter for Ohio State, but boy did he make it count. He set the single season passing and touchdown records for not just Ohio State, but the Big Ten conference. In 2018, he threw for over 4000 yards and 50 touchdowns. This made Haskins one of only six NCAA athletes to achieve that number of touchdowns in a single season. Furthermore he set records for Ohio’s total offensive yards in a season (4900+), total offensive yards in a game (477) and total passing yards in a game (470). 

In all 12 of his starts for Ohio State he managed at least 225 passing yards. This led to him being named in the running for the Heisman Trophy. A trophy he would eventually lose out on to the number one draft pick, Kyler Murray. Needless to say he had quite the year and earned the right to be mentioned in the conversation as best quarterback in the class.

Here are Haskins’ final college stats:

13-1 record, 413-of-590 passing, 70.1% completion rate, 5396 yards, 54 touchdowns and only 9 INT

The only downside to these numbers is that NFL teams only had one season to base their opinions on. However, as single seasons go this one was pretty special and the Redskins must have been hopeful they had found their new franchise quarterback. In fact the Redskins were so optimistic about Haskins that they allowed him to get in touch with the great Joe Theisman and ask his permission to unretire his old number 7. A request that Theisman allowed.

Unfortunately, Haskins has not played enough in the NFL to register on most statistic websites so let’s have a look at the Washington offence and how they are fairing with Keenum under Centre.

The 2019 Redskins story so far

If you just look at the numbers, Case Keenum is actually playing quite well, but in a poor team. Washington’s offensive line is ranked 26th in the league and have given up 26 sacks to date. That is a sack on average every 9 plays for the Washington offense. 

Despite this pressure, Keenum has managed 1343 yards and nine touchdowns with a completion percentage of 67%. He has only thrown four interceptions, which given the amount of times he is getting pressured isn’t too bad at all. At 31 Keenum is getting to an age where many players are starting to be considered to be taking a step back (Tom Brady aside), and many general managers start looking at the younger/cheaper options. Keenum is also start from a point of mediocrity in the eyes of most. He had one dominant year in Minnesota, but that is really all their is to shout about in his career. That is an issue when you have the franchises heir apparent sat on the bench.

The question with these numbers for Keenum is what they mean for Haskins? Can Haskins, who has has all the ability we saw in college, a powerful arm and his incredible accuracy, bring something similar to the Washington offense if really given the chance. Is Keenum simply just outperforming his mediocre offense? Or are there pieces there that would allow the Redskins rookie QB to also have success?

The story so far for Haskins is not good. His first start in New York was not pretty at all. He was then benched for Colt McCoy, before they went back to Keenum. He also struggled in relief in Minnesota. However, we have seen Haskins flash moments in a Redskins uniform. We just need to see more.

Time to decide

The Washington Redskins need to make a decision soon about who they want to lead their team. No matter who they choose to finish the season with the Redskins could do with consistency at the quarterback position. Right now it would appear they are leaning Haskins, but will not commit publicly

What will not help Haskins in the future is to have him play some games then drop him again and so on and so forth. Keep coming into games he hasn’t prepared as the starter for does not help either. It is very hard to prep to come into a game for any player, but for a quarterback it tends to be very rare. It is tough for a rookie to just drop in and out of games, as we have seen from Haskins’ play when he has had to.

With Washington on a bye this week its should have given them time to assess their options and choose who will finish the season. In my opinion it has to be Haskins. The season is over for Washington and all that is to be determined is how high they pick in the draft. 

There is no downside to playing Haskins, let him play out the rest of the season and get a feel for the NFL in games that lets be honest do not matter to the franchise. Then in the draft select players to boost their offensive line and give Haskins the protection he needs to show off that big arm. In the upcoming offseason, Washington can look to build a strong offence, and then in 2020 they can hopefully challenge in the NFC East again. Worst case scenario, they see no growth from Haskins this season, and they can decide to look at moving on to another quarterback this season. While unlikely the Cardinals are proving that sometimes it can be the right thing to do.

Mark Ross


Mark has been an avid NFL fan since 2006 and follows the Pittsburgh Steelers. Just recently started writing about the league and has done articles for @FirstAndTen and game coverage for @ByTheMinNFL. You can see more of his articles on his twitter @markr1991


Image credit: USA Today & Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports