There were high expectations for him when he was entering the league out of Ohio State, but Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins has had a disappointing start to his NFL career. He has gone from being a top-15 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to fighting for his football life in Pittsburgh.
However, Haskins was in a horrible situation on the Washington Football Team, which didn’t help his confidence or ability to find success on the field. Now, his recent comments may have just somewhat highlighted how bad it was, as they reflected poorly on his previous coaches, Jay Gruden and Ron Rivera.
Dwayne Haskins went from an Ohio State star to fighting for a roster spot
Dwayne Haskins set the bar pretty high for himself with his play in college at Ohio State. He threw for 4,831 yards, 50 touchdowns, and eight interceptions during the 2018 season with the Buckeyes, helping him finish third in the Heisman Trophy race. He also led OSU to a 13-1 record.
His play then led to him going to the Washington Football Team with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he has since looked nothing like he did in college.
Haskins played in nine games and started in seven as a rookie in 2019, throwing for 1,365 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions. The young QB wasn’t much better in 2020, either, as he had 1,439 yards, five touchdowns, and seven interceptions in seven games and six starts.
A series of frustrating events — some his fault — then prompted Washington to release Haskins after Week 16 in 2020. He later signed with the Steelers on a reserve/future contract in January.
Haskins has since appeared in three preseason games for Pittsburgh, completing 28 of his 42 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown, per the Steelers’ team site. He will get the start in the team’s final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers with the opportunity to earn a roster spot.
He praised Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin
Ahead of his first preseason start with the Steelers, Dwayne Haskins spoke to the media, and he discussed one area where Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has impressed him so far.
“I feel like with this offense, we do a lot of different things that can exploit a defense,” Haskins said, per the Steelers’ YouTube. “…I think the biggest thing with me preparing is, I think coach Tomlin does a great job as far as giving you a scouting report of who you’re playing that week. I never really had that before. As far as being able to know who is the senior analysis coach, who is the defensive coordinator, who is the DB coach, what does he like to do, what techniques do the corners play. We get that all before we even come into practice that week.”
He continued: “That’s pretty cool to be able to have a great jump start as far as what you’re looking at and what you’re seeing. So, I feel like that definitely prepares me to go ahead and play against Carolina.”
The work Tomlin puts in is incredible; that’s why he has achieved so much as an NFL head coach. But the eyebrow-raising part of that quote was when Haskins said, “I never really had that before.”
Dwayne Haskins’ comments reflect poorly on Ron Rivera and Jay Gruden
We all know Washington has been a mess of an organization over the years, and Jay Gruden didn’t help them at all in terms of on-field success. He coached there for five full seasons and WFT only made the playoffs once. Then in 2019 — Haskins’ rookie year — Washington got off to an 0-5 start with Gruden, and the team fired him after the fifth week.
Ron Rivera helped Washington make the playoffs in 2020, but it wasn’t because the team played well. WFT is just in the worst division in football, the NFC East, so it made the postseason with a 7-9 record.
It’s easy to wonder how much more success Haskins could have had, had he been in the right situation and with coaches who made sure their young QB was fully prepared. Being an NFL quarterback is one of the most challenging jobs in sports, so being there for them when they’re young is crucial to their development.
Haskins — who certainly deserves some of the blame for things falling apart in Washington — often looked like a guy who didn’t know what he was doing out there, which is a poor reflection of Gruden, Rivera, and, to a degree, 2019 interim coach Bill Callahan. We have seen several QBs like him get drafted into horrible situations and then fail. Their stories may have been different had they gone to a place like Pittsburgh, where the head coach is always prepared.
Luckily for Haskins, he’s getting another chance on the Steelers. Hopefully, he can prove everyone in Washington wrong.