The hardworking Dwayne Haskins must know when to not work so hard


Dwayne Haskins is 13 years into his life as a quarterback and beginning his second season as a pro signal caller. When he was very young, and when other kids his age were watching Scooby-Doo, as he put it on Tuesday, Haskins was instead more interested in attending football camps and picking up knowledge about coverages and blitz pickups.

That's proof that Haskins badly wants to succeed.

This offseason, Haskins bounced around the country, meeting up with a star-studded group of receivers that ranged from Terry McLaurin to Antonio Brown to Terrell Owens. He cut down more than 15 pounds and tried to speed up his feet and build up his accuracy on a daily basis in those voluntary get-togethers.

That's proof that Haskins badly wants to succeed.

Last week, Ron Rivera compared Haskins to Cam Newton, but not solely because they both have gifted arms. Rivera also believes his new passer matches his old passer when it comes to the "desire to win" and "the way they prepare." Rivera wouldn't claim that unless he truly felt that.

That's proof that Haskins badly wants to succeed.

At this point, with the Washington Football Team's opener against the Eagles almost, finally here, there's no doubting that Haskins is hardworking. But for him to succeed in 2020 and beyond, he's going to have to recognize the times where he doesn't need to work so hard, too.

"Just knowing that if I go into the game, the plays will come to me when they’re supposed to be made," Haskins said when asked how he'll need to guard against trying to do too much. "I throw the check downs, I throw the screens... When it’s time to throw the ball down the field and Terry [McLaurin] or whoever is there on the field, make the throw and make a pretty damn good throw. That’s what I look forward to doing."

If he saw it, offensive coordinator Scott Turner surely approved of that quote from No. 7. A few days earlier, Turner relayed the main message he's been emphasizing with Haskins since arriving in Washington, and it sounded a lot like what the 23-year-old spoke to during his Zoom presser.

"We play the game, we don’t play plays," Turner said. "Knowing when to say when, whether it’s throwing the ball away, tucking it and running or even protecting the football and taking a sack. Those plays are just as big in games as the big chunk plays or the completions because it allows you to get to the other plays."

"That’s something that competitors, young and old quarterbacks, a bunch of guys have issues with that," he continued. "They want to make every single play work. The key in this league is to eliminate the negatives, and then when the defense does give you the opportunity to make a big play, take advantage of those."

Haskins hasn't been with the Burgundy and Gold long, but in watching him in two training camps, plenty of practices and a handful of starts, it has become clear that he's someone who's fond of striking downfield. You'd be aggressive, too, if you could spin a football like him.

With the amount of pressure that's on him now — most believe this campaign will determine whether the rest of his career soars or sinks — and the amount of grinding he did in the spring and summer, the tendency may be for him to want to show everything right away. If he comes out in Week 1, for example, and has a quiet afternoon with measly stats, some skeptics may already start questioning whether all the effort he displayed was for not. 

Of course, there will be opportunities for Haskins to smash the gas. He's talented, he has some useful players around him and he's running a fresh, Turner-led scheme. But at other points, he'll have to step on the brake or maybe even put the whole thing in park. Finding that balance will be crucial.

So, when watching him in 2020, pay just as much attention to the clutch scores as you do the four-yard connections on second-and-10 to set up a manageable third down.

“Success, I feel like everybody wants to make that numerical," he said. "I don’t think that’s numerical for me. I think success for me is finding the good plays and the bad plays — whether that’s making a touchdown, throwing a check down or throwing it out of bounds, not taking a sack."

For Haskins to have made it here, he had to go all-out. There was no choice. For him to advance further, however, having the awareness of when to dial it back is paramount as well.

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