The Washington Football team, as they are (temporarily) officially known as, are going into next season with new branding and a new head coach in Ron Rivera. On the whole, the organization is looking to make a fresh start. And the quarterback leading them into the future will most likely be Dwayne Haskins. Washington fans who watched him play last season might not be sure whether or not that is a good thing. However, Haskins’ advanced metrics indicate that they should have a positive outlook going into 2020.
Using OSM to examine how Haskins played in 2019
Haskins was drafted 15th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, making him the third quarterback taken behind Kyler Murray and Daniel Jones. Unlike those two players, who each started more than half of their team’s games, Haskins only saw limited playing time. This circumstance occurred in part due to his position on the depth chart, and in part due to injury, and his statistics suffered as a result. In total, he threw for 1,365 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Naturally, Murray and Jones’ statistics look more impressive, and it can be difficult to gauge how well Haskins played in comparison.
PFN’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM), which measures how much impact a player had over their own statistics, was created to better evaluate players like Haskins, whose numbers were severely impacted by a lack of opportunity.
When compared to the average NFL quarterback, Haskins’ OSM grade does not look particularly impressive. At 21.1, it ranked 25th among qualifying quarterbacks in 2019. However, it was high enough to rank second among the rookie quarterbacks, only behind Jones. That probably comes as a surprise to most people, given that Murray won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
However, it is important to remember that the OSM is not a measure of talent, but rather one of how effective they were within their offense. And in this sense, Haskins outperformed the first overall pick.
Explaining Haskins’ OSM grade
Looking at the advanced metrics that go into creating a player’s OSM grade paints Haskins as a player of extremes. On the positive side (at least when it comes to OSM calculations), Haskins was one of the NFL’s most aggressive quarterbacks. He threw the ball further downfield than almost anyone else, averaging 8.7 yards across all of his pass attempts (10th), and 6.4 yards across his completions (12th). He also threw the ball into tightly contested windows 22.7% of the time, the second-highest percentage in the NFL.
So, what kept him from having an even higher grade? Well, his completion percentage was the second-lowest in the league at 58.6%, ahead of only David Blough. Given his relatively aggressive playstyle, a lower completion percentage is somewhat to be expected. However, the story is more complicated than that.
Based on numerous on-field factors, the NFL calculates the likelihood that each pass a quarterback throws will result in a completion. In Haskins’ case, his completion percentage was 4.6% lower than expected. That was the third-worst differential in the NFL. So, while, to a certain extent, you can explain away Haskins’ poor completion percentage by looking at how aggressive he was, he actually underperformed expectations significantly in this area, even conceding those facts.
Taking a closer look at Haskins’ weekly grades
Haskins’ overall OSM statistics don’t look particularly impressive. Looking at his week to week grades, however, tells us a slightly different story, one that should make Washington fans excited regarding Haskins’ 2020 outlook. The chart below shows his grades from each week in which he qualified for one, represented as black dots, compared to the league average at his position, represented by the yellow line.
As I already mentioned, early on in the season, his playing time was heavily limited. All told, he only played in nine games during the season, and only received a grade in eight of those nine.
The first game in which he saw significant minutes was in Week 4 against the New York Giants. To put it bluntly, he played terribly, throwing three interceptions and receiving a grade of just 9.49. However, as bad as that game looks, it does put the seven interceptions he threw throughout the remainder of the season into context. Obviously, throwing three interceptions in a single game isn’t great, but Haskins clearly cleaned up his play, given that he only threw four interceptions in his subsequent eight appearances.
Although the OSM does not take interceptions into account, his later games showed improvements on this front as well, especially near the end of his season. Once he became the full-time starter, his grade increased in five of the six games he played, and heavily trended upwards overall. That growth culminated in a stellar Week 16, once again against the Giants, in which he received a grade of 57.3. That was the highest grade produced by any player that week, and the fifth-highest across the entire 2019 season.
Haskins was injured for almost the entire second half of that game, but he made the most of his limited playing time, completing 12 of his 15 pass attempts for 133 and two touchdowns. I’ve written about this game in a previous article, so I won’t delve too deep into it here, but those statistics clearly paint Haskins in a stellar light. New York was far from an elite team last season, but even taking into account his less-than-stellar competition, Haskins showed that he is capable of playing at a high level if the defense gives him the opportunity.
The outlook for Haskins in 2020 seems bright
I’m not an expert scout by any stretch, but I liked Haskins a lot coming out of college. Washington, having the opportunity to draft him at 15th overall, seemed like a great deal for them, though I must admit that the team’s front office at the time concerned me greatly.
However, despite a rocky start, towards the end of the year, he made a great deal of progress towards proving me right. Going into 2020, with a new head coach, and hopefully a more talented team overall, Haskins should be well-positioned to continue building on the promise he showed late in 2019. And if he does, he will be the focal point for a Washington team looking to return to prominence for the first time, in a long time.
Lucas Ellinas is a writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter @Lucas_Ellinas.