ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The disaster some feared didn’t happen. The spark others hoped for didn’t occur either. For Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, his first start produced a little good, no terrible plays and ultimately another Washington Redskins loss.
The Redskins lost, 24-9, to the Buffalo Bills, but it’s not a loss that can be blamed on Haskins. That said, he didn’t do enough to generate more points, completing 15 of 22 for 144 yards with no interceptions and no touchdown passes. Haskins started because Case Keenum had a concussion. It’s not as if the Redskins were thriving under Keenum. They lack the talent at the skill positions to help most quarterbacks.
Haskins looked like a rookie making his first start against the NFL’s third-rated pass defense. The win for him is that he didn’t turn it over. The loss is that there weren’t any big plays down the field. The question now becomes if the Redskins turn back to Keenum after the bye week. In an ideal world, the Redskins wanted Haskins to sit all season. But they’re 1-8 and might let him play to gain experience.
Promising trend: The continued play of running back Adrian Peterson. Coach Bill Callahan wanted to be committed to the run game, and he has been as Peterson now has rushed for 376 yards in four games since the coaching change. His 101 yards rushing in the first half were tied with Dalvin Cook for the most in the NFL this season. Peterson has provided an identity for the offense; the Redskins just lack the passing game to capitalize on his success. He’s found a good rhythm. There have been times when Peterson could have broken long runs with a different cut — he has mentioned that. The problem Sunday: They couldn’t sustain the run game as Peterson managed 7 yards on eight carries after halftime.
Biggest hole in the game plan: The red zone. The Redskins just couldn’t get anything going in this area, whether from playcalls or execution or both. It’s also a function of a one-dimensional offense that lacks strong red zone targets, so the Redskins must be creative to generate anything. On their first trip, facing third-and-2, they hoped to fool Buffalo with a fake to Peterson. It didn’t work and a sprint rollout opposite Peterson was defeated. They ran on their first two plays on the next trip and gained a combined 2 yards. The Redskins have not scored a touchdown in their past 13 quarters.
QB breakdown: Haskins hasn’t challenged defenses down the field, something many expected when he came to the NFL. But he attempted one pass longer than 15 yards to a receiver — an end zone fade to Paul Richardson. He also missed receiver Trey Quinn down the field on a crosser; he was wide open. The wind impacted some of the passing game and Haskins was sacked four times. There were times when he held the ball a little long, but on some of those sacks there was a free rusher or a missed block by the lineman. At least the Redskins weren’t called for delays of game. Most of the time they were OK in and out of the huddle.