If rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins becomes the starter in Washington, one major factor will be a five-letter word that coach Jay Gruden used repeatedly when talking about the former Buckeye on Thursday.
“I think the one thing that you can’t gauge — and it’s still early — but it’s the poise factor,” Gruden told reporters. “I think he’s got great poise for a young player. You watch him in college, he had great poise. He played at Ohio State and he had some big-time games and the poise he displayed in the pocket carried over to the OTAs. People were around him, I know he knew he wasn’t getting hit, but still, his ability to move his feet in the pocket, kept his eyes downfield, and make plays outside of the pocket was very exciting. I think he’s got a great demeanor about himself. I don’t think he lets one play affect his next play, which is very very important for a quarterback in the National Football League.”
Gruden didn’t give a straight answer when asked about the strategy for splitting reps among the various quarterbacks.
“I think we just have to play it out,” he said. “I think we just have to be aware of making sure people get challenged in critical situations, as well as first, second down, throwing a bootleg — got to make sure we push the pocket a little bit, get them some drops and some throws against us in pass rush, and some different looks. So, it’ll be a good challenge for us. I think, obviously, that’s the number one challenge that we have as a staff going into this season is to make sure we get those guys the reps and give them ample opportunity to succeed and show that they’re the starter.”
The problem with approaching things this way is that the eventual starter won’t have as many reps as he’d have if he were the starter from the get go. Which will make it even harder for the rookie to win the job — and even more important for him to demonstrate the poise about which Gruden has raved if Haskins hopes to become QB1 in Washington.