LANDOVER, Md. — The Washington Redskins are 1-6, headed nowhere fast and are starting a quarterback unsigned beyond this season. Case Keenum isn’t the future, but Dwayne Haskins still isn’t the present.
After yet another Redskins loss, interim coach Bill Callahan said Keenum will continue to start and that they still have confidence in him. Keenum completed 9 of 12 passes for 77 yards in Sunday’s 9-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Haskins, as he has for all but one game this season, remained on the sidelines. That’s where he’ll stay for at least another week and possibly longer.
“Dwayne’s still learning,” Callahan said. “He’d be the first to tell you that. We still have faith in Case and his ability to manage this offense and run this offense and execute everything within it.”
It makes sense to stick with Keenum this week, with the Redskins playing at Minnesota on Thursday (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox). Keenum has thrown nine touchdown passes and four interceptions in six starts and ranks 21st in Total QBR at 44.7.
But after this week, the clock starts ticking on the true start of Haskins’ tenure with the Redskins. He relieved Keenum in a Week 4 loss at the New York Giants, but hasn’t played in any other game. If the Redskins continue to lose and they don’t put Haskins in, it’ll be quite a statement on how far they think he has to go. And every indication has been that they feel a lot of work remains.
They want him to continue developing as a pocket passer, learning how to read defenses at an NFL level, making better decisions and improving his accuracy.
But Callahan has spent the past two weeks since taking over for Jay Gruden trying to build up Haskins. They give him all the first-team reps when Keenum can’t practice.
“His growth is starting to show in practice and also in his preparation,” Callahan said last week. “He’s in earlier, he’s out later, so it’s all coming to fruition. It’s going to take a little time.”
The Redskins want him more engaged at a higher level in all facets, whether in meeting rooms or in pregame warm-ups. Their approach since Callahan took over is to continue saying he’s not ready but while acknowledging any growth in his game. It’s not about how many first-team reps he gets in practice as much as it is about approach and work done away from the field.
On Friday, when asked about Callahan’s comments, Haskins said he has to “take it by the horns.”
“Just ownership of everything,” Haskins said. “You want to be a franchise guy, so I have to act like it, be like it, move like it. So that’s it. You can’t really wait for your turn anymore, you have to seize it. That’s what I’m doing.”
In his one game, Haskins completed 9 of 17 passes for 108 yards and three interceptions. The Redskins want him to improve his decision-making, becoming more consistent. They still want him to improve calling plays in the huddle.
More than anything, they want to find a way to coax from him what many see as considerable upside. That’s what Haskins wants as well. He’s only 22 years old with 14 starts in college on his résumé. Haskins also knows what he must do in practice.
“Just going out there being me and stop worrying about everything else,” he said.
Sometimes that “everything else” means others questioning his ability to read an NFL defense or his readiness.
“That’s really a joke,” he said Friday, “because I pride myself on reading defenses and knowing protections. I can’t pay any mind to that.”
But for the Redskins to see the growth that makes them comfortable enough to put him in the game, they want him to maintain the right approach.
“I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do,” Haskins said. “This is like the first week I’ve just taken it.”