Who says Haskins is just a pocket passer?
The Redskins this week began workouts without pads or contact, and these glorified walkthroughs provide some insight into potential play-calling. Coach Jay Gruden has two new quarterbacks to teach his system to, and the quicker learner between Case Keenum and Haskins will win the starting job come September. That’s assuming third-string passer Colt McCoy, who’s still recovering from a broken leg, doesn’t make a move in training camp.
Gruden should pick the player who looks more ready to immediately lead and not waste the season on molding Haskins. Keenum appeared sharp in his first practice, too, finding options between linebackers as his rookie receivers tried to make an impression.
It’s all about the eyes, being able to scan the field without staring down targets so defenders don’t know where the ball will go. It’s the difference between touchdowns and turnovers, and the only way to learn this craft is through film study. Haskins and Keenum must instantly recognize defenses, and Monday at Redskins Park was their first test.
“When you know where your eyes are supposed to be,” Haskins said, “it makes it a lot easier being able to read safety keys and read protections. You play fast when you know what you’re doing.”
If only it was that simple. Gruden and his passers repeatedly spoke of patience with Haskins, referring to his progress as “baby steps.” Haskins and Keenum know maybe 10% of the playbook now, but hopefully they will know nearly all of it come training camp. The next few weeks of OTAs and minicamp will tip Gruden toward a front-runner when they arrive in Richmond.
“I think we have to grade them based on production out here every day,” Gruden said. “Every day is a new grade, every day you see how they’re developing, see how they’re getting better. … Somebody is going to rise, I would think.”
It would be easy for Gruden to simply make Haskins the opening-day starter. Let the 15th overall draft selection immediately begin what’s hopefully a 12-year NFL career like the last person in Washington to wear No. 7 — Joe Theismann, who was on the sideline Monday watching practice.
But Gruden runs a meritocracy, as shown with his benching of Robert Griffin III in 2014 despite the team’s heavy investment in him. The QB decision may also decide whether Gruden’s tenure extends into 2020, so he must choose wisely.
“Competition makes you better and that’s what the spring is about,” Keenum said.
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