“We talked about challenging the way he handles himself on the field and how he handles himself off the field”
By Sky Sports NFL
Last Updated: 03/09/20 11:48pm
Washington head coach Ron Rivera has praised Dwayne Haskins’ response to the challenges thrown his way in training camp after he was named as starting quarterback for the team’s opening game earlier this week.
Haskins endured a mixed rookie year as he put up 1,365 yards passing for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions in nine games, seven of which he started after eventually taking over from Case Keenum amid a tough season for the organisation.
The first-round pick became more comfortable as the season went on though, and upon entering the offseason made a notable effort to increase his work behind the scenes.
“Dwayne has done a really nice job. When I first got here in January he and I sat down and had a very good conversation.
“I talked about having the opportunity to look at all the games he’s started in. The only games I looked at them specifically was because those were the games where they put the plan together for him specifically.
“I saw him do some really good things, I was really pleased with that. As we went forward and kept looking at those things there were areas of the game we felt we had to challenge and improve. He’s done that.”
Washington introduced some competition for Haskins by trading for Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen in exchange for a fifth round pick.
Alex Smith’s presence has meanwhile proven another motivating reminder to Haskins after he was remarkably cleared to resume football activities having suffered a horrific double leg break back in November 2018 that nearly cost him his life.
“We talked about challenging the way he handles himself on the field and how he handles himself off the field,” added Rivera.
“We didn’t have any preseason games where we could judge him and his growth. We kept him with the 1s throughout the entire training camp to it really see where he was.
“He’s taken advantage of that opportunity and really did a nice job. I’m really pleased with his growth.”
It’s been an offseason of change for Washington, who welcomed a new head coach in Rivera and retired their ‘Redskins’ nickname following pressure from the Native American community and team sponsors.
Personnel wise, the franchise also welcomed arguably the best player available in the NFL Draft as they selected pass rusher Chase Young with the No 2 overall pick.
Young had 16.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles in 12 games for Ohio State last year as a unanimous All-American and unanimous member of the Big Ten 2010s All-Decade Team.
“The way we want to use him coming off the edge as a pass rusher we feel we can get a lot of mileage out of him,” said Rivera.
“I was very fortunate. I played a system in my first couple of years in the NFL that really exploited those talents of your outside rushers. We had a guy called Richard Dent, I’m not saying Richard Dent is Chase Young, but when you have a dynamic pass rusher you can be really good and you’ve got to use him.
“When you have a guy of that calibre you can do a lot of things. There’s another guy there too who I tell people not to sleep on in Montez Sweat.”
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