“Everybody [made them],” Haskins said. “But I did that; that’s my fault.”
Haskins’s numbers Sunday weren’t awe-inspiring. He finished with 147 passing yards and no touchdowns while completing just 52 percent of his throws. But in leading Washington to a second straight win, he showed not only that he’s making progress in his development but that the Redskins were correct to hand him the starting job when they did.
The rookie’s comfort level and command of the offense have clearly improved. He moved well in the pocket with plenty of chaos around him. He put together an impressive two-minute drive just before halftime until it stalled and kicker Dustin Hopkins’s field goal was blocked. And had it not been for some key drops by Jeremy Sprinkle, Trey Quinn and Terry McLaurin, his passing numbers might have looked better.
Haskins explained that there are a lot of details to playing quarterback in the NFL that are becoming more natural to him as he gains starting experience, such as not rushing his drops, not bailing out when he feels pressure and not trying to make a big throw on every play.
“I was playing faster than what I needed to,” Haskins said. “I’m just slowing it down. … I feel like it’s just a mentality. I have to play like a grown man. That’s what I’ve been trying to work on the last couple weeks. Taking the ball, ripping it when it’s there, moving when I have to and making stuff happen when it needs to happen.”
Haskins still has a long way to go in his development, particularly with his accuracy, but Sunday represented a step forward. The Redskins are seeing how he progresses under game conditions.
“He made some big plays that were ad-libbed on the move,” interim coach Bill Callahan said. “Also a couple plays I think he’d love to have back. … He’ll learn from the good and the bad. I like the way he played on the road; it’s a hard place to come in and play.”
Guice could see a bigger workload moving forward
Derrius Guice matched his career high with 10 carries in Sunday’s win. Based on how he performed, he showed he should be in line for an even bigger role moving forward.
Perhaps no play during Guice’s career day — 10 carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns — made that clearer than the second-half carry on which he sliced through the left side of the line and met 230-pound Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson one-on-one six yards downfield. Guice promptly delivered a straight arm that left Thompson bouncing on his back and rolling on the turf. The run went for 37 yards, and he scored on the next play.
“That’s just instinct,” Guice said with a laugh. “… I just broke through an arm tackle, and he was the first guy there. My first instinct is just to punch him and see what’s up.”
Guice’s performance was what the Redskins envisioned when they spent a 2018 second-round pick on the LSU product. A torn ACL forced him to miss all of last season, and a torn meniscus has limited him to four games this season.
“Just never give up,” Guice said. “Everybody knows about my fall in the draft and, soon as I got here, injury after injury. It’s been hell. … I’m just really strong mentally, and I just didn’t let all the outside noise get to me. I just kept grinding and knew I got here for a reason. I wasn’t going to stop until I showed it.”
While fellow running back Adrian Peterson added 99 yards and a touchdown, Guice showed Sunday he deserves more opportunities moving forward.
Newcomers on defense shine
The Redskins found themselves in need at outside linebacker Sunday, with Ryan Kerrigan out with a concussion, Montez Sweat leaving the game with a quadriceps injury and Ryan Anderson ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit. Fortunately, Nate Orchard and Chris Odom — two players who weren’t even listed on the roster distributed before the game — stepped up.
The duo combined for three sacks and four quarterback hurries, showing good quickness off the edge and helping Washington sack Kyle Allen seven times. Odom strip-sacked Allen on the Panthers’ final play of the day, and Orchard recovered. Not a bad output, considering Orchard was signed off the street this week and Odom was promoted from the practice squad.
With Kerrigan still in the concussion protocol and the extent of Sweat’s injury unknown, the Redskins may need more strong performances out of Orchard and Odom.