Haskins ‘still learning,’ must keep improving for Washington

Dwayne Haskins’ 32 completions on 45 attempts and 314 yards in Washington’s loss to Baltimore aren’t Ron Rivera’s biggest concern.

What the second-year quarterback couldn’t accomplish on fourth-and-goal from the 13-yard line stuck out more. Haskins completed a 5-yard pass to the 8 to turn the ball over on downs, and Rivera expressed some disappointment in the 2019 first-round pick not adjusting to the circumstances.

“I wanted to see what would happen,” Rivera said. “Unfortunately, that’s a situational awareness that he’ll have to understand that ball has to be in a position to put it in the end zone. He’s still learning, he’s still growing and he’s still developing.”

Rivera said Haskins had his moments in Washington’s third consecutive loss to drop the team to 1-3, and some improvements were made. That progression needs to continue on an upward trajectory while Rivera continues to evaluate the roster in his first year as coach.

“Doing the things he needs to do and showing the growth — that’s what we’re looking for,” Rivera said Monday. “It’s a tough situation. We’re looking at our circumstances right now as a football team. We’re in a very interesting situation right now.”

Beyond situational awareness, Rivera would like to see Haskins get rid of the ball quicker under pressure. The Ravens sacked Haskins three times Sunday for a total loss of 40 yards.

After an NFL Network report Sunday that said Haskins was in danger of being replaced as the starter, agent David Mulugheta pointed out that Haskins has only started 11 NFL games and is trying to learn a new system with limited weapons and an inexperienced offensive line.

“Yet ‘he’ is the one that must play well,” Mulugheta tweeted.

For his part, Haskins feels he’s making progress in not trying to force throws as he gets more used to the pro game.

“I felt like I was in great control,” Haskins said. “I felt calm. I felt collected. I felt like I had a plan in what I was trying to do before it happened, and I was able to have a plan of how to react if it wasn’t there. So just keep on taking that and enhancing it and getting better each week.”

WHAT’S WORKING

The process of integrating new pieces of the offense is carrying on with some success. Rookie running back Antonio Gibson had 128 all-purpose yards and a rushing touchdown against Baltimore.

“I think there’s a lot of good things that we’ve been trying to do,” Rivera said. “I love that we’re trying to find ways to get the ball in (Gibson’s) hands and into (J.D. McKissic’s) hands, how we’re trying to use the tight end a little bit more, the different running schemes that we have, the different personnel groupings, how we’re trying to get the ball to Terry (McLaurin), how we’re trying to spread the ball to the other receivers.”

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The defense has actually not been bad when the opponent doesn’t have a short field, but it’s giving up yards in big chunks and a lot of points. Rivera lamented allowing big plays against the Ravens while at other times giving Washington a chance by getting stops.

“We are playing good football at certain times,” cornerback Kendall Fuller said “There are other situations where we have got to improve that. We are putting some good things out there, we just got to be more consistent and come together as a defense and put that same product out on the field.”

STOCK UP

Is it possible for McLaurin’s stock to get any higher? Even if 10 catches for 118 yards with Washington playing from behind might be deceiving, the 2019 third-round pick has at least four catches for 61 yards in each game this year.

McLaurin has become a legitimate No. 1 receiver, which should be exciting to new offensive coordinator Scott Turner.

STOCK DOWN

Running back Bryce Love was expected to make an impact this season, but Washington put him on injured reserve last week. It has been almost two years since a severe knee injury, and the question will linger about whether Love will ever return to his college level.

INJURED

No. 2 pick Chase Young missed the Ravens game with a groin injury and could be out again this week. Cornerback Greg Stroman left in the first quarter with a right leg injury.

KEY NUMBER

4 — Third downs Haskins and Washington’s offense converted on in 13 attempts against Baltimore, a 31% success rate.

NEXT STEPS

A lot has to go right in the next few days to get prepared for the Sean McVay-coached Los Angeles Rams, who opened as 9-point favorites. The former Washington offensive coordinator is making his first visit to FedEx Field since getting the job and taking the Rams to the Super Bowl.

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