CHARLOTTE – Last week, the Panthers defense prepared to face quarterback Drew Brees, who is now 24th all-time with 270 games played in the NFL.
This week, they are preparing to face a quarterback with just five games and three starts under his belt.
Dwayne Haskins, the 15th overall pick from Ohio State, is coming off his first NFL win – an ugly 19-16 victory over the Lions – for a Redskins team that is 2-9 overall.
“We just have to take advantage of him being young, that’s the biggest thing,” safety Tre Boston said. “In this league, when you get those rookie quarterbacks, you’ve got to make them pay, whether it’s getting pressure after them or giving them new things.”
Haskins has been trying to settle in since being thrown into the fire. He’s 59-of-108 (54.6%) for 654 yards and two touchdowns with six interceptions. That amounts to a passer rating of 55.9. He’s also been sacked 17 times.
“He’s learning, progressing, just understanding more each week, and I think that’s true of any young quarterback in the National Football League, especially for a rookie,” Washington interim head coach Bill Callahan said. “It takes an incredible amount of preparation, and Dwayne is putting in the time, he’s putting in the effort. The coaches are working extremely hard to bring him up to speed to NFL caliber type play week-to-week against, really, some of the top defenses in the league that we’ve played: like Minnesota, and Buffalo, and San Francisco.
“It’s just an ongoing process, and I think that he’s continuing to learn the nuances of the game on a week-to-week basis.”
Veteran defensive linemen Gerald McCoy expects Washington to put in a plan that will keep Haskins in his comfort zone. It’s the Panthers’ job collectively to force him into difficult situations. That’s when the youth and experience can really be exposed.
“There’s all different types of rookie quarterbacks, and they all have a learning curve. You try to throw different things at them to force them to do stuff they aren’t used to,” McCoy said. “But the offensive coordinator is not going to put him in bad situations. You have to do your best to get him out of that comfort zone.”
The Panthers did that to great affect against Arizona rookie quarterback Kyler Murray early in the season. The first overall pick was sacked eight times and he threw two picks as Carolina pulled away for a 38-20 win.
Now they’ll try to rattle Washington’s rookie to snap a three-game skid.
“I don’t know what – well, I do know what we are going to throw at him,” Boston said with a smile, “but we just have to know what we’re handling and execute.”
View photos from Wednesday's practice as the Panthers prepare to take on the Redskins in Week 13.