Interview: Washington Football QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.

ASHBURN, VA -- August 11, 2020, Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. speaks to the media.

On the start of training camp:

“Camp’s been going great. We’ve just been working out, conditioning with the strength coaches and then practicing with our position coaches, getting some walk-through reps in and then have two or three virtual meetings for the rest of the day. It’s been a tedious process being able to go through things kind of in slow motion, OTAs, to get ready for the start of training camp with pads. I’m excited to keep going and get ready for the season.”

On what the offense is honing in on:

“I think right now just the biggest thing is the details of the plays, just knowing the way a guard plays versus a certain front, know how receivers’ routes turn differently versus different coverages and different alerts or different plays. Just getting on the same page as the offensive coordinator [Scott Turner] and what he wants and the concept when he calls it and the objective of what we’re trying to get done. I feel like the more reps we get and the more time we get together as a unit we’ll be ready to go.”

On QB Alex Smith:

“I’m excited for Alex. I hope he gets back to full 100 percent health. Whoever’s in the quarterback room I have to compete with. Even though he’s not really practicing with the offense, he’s still working hard. Even if we get to run together against each other in competition and drills, I’m trying to make sure he gets me better and I get him better. I look at Alex as someone who is a mentor in the room who can get me better every single day as far as who we’re getting ready for this week and who we’re getting ready for next week.”

On the difference in how he feels between his rookie preseason and this year:

“I just think having learned an NFL offense last year has helped me so much going into this year and being used to having long verbiage and understanding concepts of what we’re trying to get done that are similar to last year. Being a little more mature and being a little older, finding out ways of what worked for me last year and what didn’t, I feel a lot better heading into this next week of training camp and a lot better than I did last year heading into training camp.”

On what he is excited about for camp:

“I think I’m most excited about the competition. Just being able to go against somebody across the ball and having to go against DE Montez [Sweat] and go against DE Chase [Young] and the rest of our d-line and going against our great corners. Me and S Landon [Collins] go back and forth all the time. Just looking forward to the competition part of football and just competing against someone else other than throwing on air. Hopefully getting some comradery and getting some team chemistry going on that we can go into Week 1 and we’re all together as a team.”

On if the defensive line is preparing them to face stout defenses in practice:

“Of course. We have a lot to prove and we have a lot of talented first-round picks on the front. It kind of goes back for me going back to college going against the guys I went against in college. Just getting used to the speed getting sped up at practice and getting ready for the game I think is going to get me ready for Week 1, just having all the edge rushers we have and the great interior pass rush as well.”

On settling into a role of leadership:

“I think mostly it’s just a mentality going in every day to handle your business both on and off the field. Just having a certain presence and confidence when commanding an offense and when commanding a huddle. Having learned that going into the last couple games of the season last year, I’ve been just trying to master that same edge that a [Buccaneers QB] Tom Brady or [Saints QB] Drew Brees has when he steps into a building you know he’s there. Not necessarily having been named [a starter] right now, but our offense needs a guy who’s going to take ownership and lead and, why not that be me? So, that’s what I’ve been doing.” 

On his expectations for his run game this season:

“I definitely want to be a pass-first quarterback. I love throwing from the pocket and dissecting defenses and making plays. But I feel like me being in really great shape right now—better than I was last year—and me learning the soft pockets of where you’re at in the pocket and extending plays, I feel like I’m in better shape and me working on being more explosive outside of the pocket, I feel like that can be a part of my game that can be stepped up a little bit and that I can use to make some extra plays or extend a third down, get a first down and make stuff happen and kind of have a situation. I’m looking forward to making some plays with my feet in year two.”

On connecting with legendary veteran wide receivers across the league in the offseason:

“I think I met up with everybody, but I’d probably do it all again if I could next year. It was a great experience this offseason being able to meet with some NFL legends and some superstars. And of course, my guys like WR Terry [McLaurin] and WR Steven [Sims] want to be just like them and just try to elevate our game and get better. Whatever we have in store for next season we’ll get to it, but I’m excited to get ready for this year.”

On his expectations for the coming season:

“I’m just trying to be a great leader. If I can be a captain this year, that’s something I’m going to try to achieve. But, just making the most plays possible and making the best situations. Not making anything worse in what’s going on in the game and trying to lead these guys and be a presence in the locker room to help win some games this year and just try to be a bright spot in D.C.”

On what he has improved on this past year and what the next step is:

“The next step is just proving myself right with the work I put in this offseason. All the sacrifices, extra time I spent off the field in the classroom, I just want to see that pay off. No statistical reasons or trying to win any trophies or anything like that, just being the best quarterback, best teammate, best leader that I can be. I just worked on doing that every day and getting better and hopefully that leads to some accolades and success down the road. But right now, it’s just being the best I can be and being a leader for [Head Coach Ron] Rivera and this team.”

On what he has sacrificed to improve on the field:

“There are some personal things, having to cut some things out of my life. That’s just with anything trying to achieve greater heights, just being self-aware with yourself and knowing what you need to work on and what needs to change. So, that’s what I did this offseason and I feel like it’s worked tremendously and it’s only the beginning.”

On working out with Texans QB Deshaun Watson and Patriots QB Cam Newton:

“I hit up [Browns wide receiver] WR Odell [Beckham] to work out a couple days while I was out in L.A. before training camp got started. Of course, I hit up one of my quarterback coaches who’s able to travel and me, him and Deshaun are great friends. Deshaun was out there for some photoshoot he had to do, so just being able to link with him and then of course Cam works out at UCLA a lot. Having met both of them prior and having been really close with Deshaun the last couple years, and then being able to really sit down with Cam, it was just a great experience to share with them and knowledge about the position, about life and things we can help each other. That was a great conversation I’ll probably hold for the rest of my life.”


On areas of comfort for this season:

“Probably just being around similar players. That’s something that I think will really help with my confidence. Just having a lot of the same receivers, a lot of the same line back for the most part, having RB [Adrian Peterson] back, guys who believe in me. I think that’s definitely helped with me being confidence going into this offseason and going into this season.”


On what he likes about working with this coaching staff:

“I would say I love working with this staff, not more than the last staff, but just the attention to detail they have with me, just being able to work with [quarterbacks coach Ken] Zampese on a daily basis and [defensive coordinator] Coach [Jack] Del Rio, and having Coach Turner in the Zoom meeting. They’re very insightful and have played a lot of ball and been around football pretty much their whole lives. So being able to be around those three and having Alex in the room. Even QB Kyle [Allen], he knows this offense as well. Just how open we are in our communication learning these new plays and being able to help each other. We may see something on this play that we like, or we like to learn how our words change versus coverage, it’s very open dialogue in the quarterback room and I’m enjoying it.”


On having makeshift quarterback rooms:

“I think the Zoom room is kind of like Face Timing somebody, but you have multiple people in there. I think we do a great job of letting each person share how they feel or what they think of something. Zampese always keeps it fresh as far as what we’re doing. It’s a great meeting. I don’t get bored of it. I look forward to the next one and just enjoy what we’ve got going on.”

On steps to becoming a better leader:

“Just being a better leader you have to be able to sit down and look at yourself in the mirror and say what did I do well and what did I not do well, what do I have to improve on and what do I have keep improving on and what are my areas of weakness on and off the field and how do I make those weaknesses my strengths and how do I make my strengths even stronger? That’s something I worked on this offseason as far as self-awareness. And picking out the right workouts to do, how to take care of my body, who to throw it to, who not to throw it to, where to throw—especially with having this Covid pandemic going on—where to throw, when to throw. Being around who and just making more calculated decisions. Of course, with making better decisions, people start to take notice and gain some respect so that’s how I’ve been leading.”

On the difference in leading in the NFL:

“I think having to lead at the NFL level is different than leading in previous levels of football just because you have to deal with some real men, 13-14 year vets, Hall of Famers, guys who are in contract years, guys who are trying to prove themselves. It’s just a whole different perspective and different people in your huddle. Having learned something from [Ohio State Head Coach Ryan] Day when I was in school is that leadership is not just having one club, you have to have multiple clubs—different pitches, different wedges. Being able to relate to different guys in different moments, in a game or in practice or a meeting. Knowing how to get across to someone even if it’s not the whole room. Just being a quarterback, being a leader, you have to be versatile in how you lead and also gain that respect. If you don’t have respect no one’s going to listen to you or really follow you, so that’s all I’ve been trying to do is earn that.”

On the process learning terminology this year compared to past years:

“Having been in a west coast offense last year, the terms have more verbiage and the tags were longer. There was a little more time to get the plays called in the huddle. In college, there were some hand signals, so it was easy to decipher what the play was just by having multiple different hand singles on the field. This offense is kind of an in-between both of them, having some tempo variances and being able to have one or two key-word plays and then there are some plays where you have to tag some stuff a little bit in the number system. I just like it because it’s something new, being able to learn something and try to master it. And then of course, Coach Turner having his father be Norv Turner, and watching how explosive his offenses were when he coached in the NFL and how Scott wants to attack defenses, I’m looking forward to seeing how he calls plays. Just getting to know him and how aggressive he is in his play-calling, I feel like this offense and the system I’m in really fits me. I’m looking forward to mastering it.”

On if he has spoken to former RB Derrius Guice:

“I was going to give Derrius a couple days to let him clear his mind and stuff like that. I haven’t reached out to him yet, but I’m praying for him in this situation and hoping that the female is OK as well. It’s unfortunate, but I’m more wrapped up in football right now and training camp and making sure my mind is right. I hope the best for everyone in that situation. It’s unfortunate.”

On his social responsibility to stay healthy this season throughout the pandemic:

“I feel like being socially responsible is very important for the longevity of the season and making sure the guys around us don’t get sick. Just me being at home with my dogs and being secluded to a couple members of family and friends and having my teammates as well. I feel like there are a lot of distractions as well and who you can be around to keep yourself socially safe and then making sure you don’t come in contact with anything that can make you sick, especially with having such a fragile situation where if one person gets sick in the meeting room and he’s been around other players or been on the field with other players, then those players will also be out as well. So just knowing that it’s a domino effect and how one person can mess up 20 people and then you don’t have enough people to fill a roster on game day. So just understanding the significance of that, and just knowing that this is about football right now and just making sure you keep yourself accountable for your teammates and your coaches.”

On the best advice a veteran player gave him this offseason:

“A whole bunch of advice and conversations I had with players, some players who have great history and some who have had different paths and stuff. Just having conversations with Cam and him saying just, ‘Be yourself.’ It sounds cliché, but just going through what he went through in Carolina and in college for him, he’s been through a lot. Just hearing from him and listening to him about how he’s handled his situation and what was important for him for his growth, to have that conversation with him. Then asking T.O. [Terrell Owens] and Chad [Johnson] who have worked with some really great quarterbacks in the past, ‘What’s this guy like? How’s QB Carson Palmer? How was [Donovan] McNabb when you were with McNabb? How’s playing with whoever you were playing with when you were in the NFL?’ And just hearing their perspective. Hearing how T.O. was when he was in San Francisco. Seeing how they grow and how they change and their process and seeing them being 40-year-old retired NFL football players. Just being able to have those conversations, sharing those moments and then having a conversation with Deshaun and Odell and other guys of that nature. And then of course having Terry and having Steven and having WR Kelvin [Harmon], guys who are my age who are trying to figure out life as well, just figuring out the importance of knowing we have each other and we’re able to bounce off of experiences and what we learn from certain things. Having those friends you relate to I feel is very important for your success, especially as an African-American athlete in America.”


On his reaction if the Big Ten Conference were to cancel the college football season:

“I would just feel a lot of hurt and pain for them because I know what it’s like to get ready for a season in college, especially with having winter workouts, spring football, summer conditioning and how much work it is just to get to football time and all the time you spend trying to get ready for the season. To potentially not have one and then guys who are trying to look at playing professionally one day, I just feel for them and grieve for them. I have a lot of friends who still go to Ohio State, classmates that I went to school with. Seeing that there’s a possibility for them postponing or not having a season at all, I just feel for them because I know they work really hard for it and I hope that the season happens for them.”

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