Last season, Alex Smith had a possible career-ending leg injury after an unsuccessful surgery to follow a broken bone. With Smith falling down, the Washington Redskins shopped for their future franchise quarterback. The Redskins picked up Case Keenum in case of emergency. However, the Redskins drafted Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins in the first round. Haskins is arguably the best quarterback of the 2019 NFL Draft class because of his wide variety of skills.
Haskins also possesses weaknesses that seem to be some of Smith’s strengths. With Smith’s career coming to an end, he can mentor Haskins into the next best quarterback. After all, the last quarterback Smith mentored was MVP Patrick Mahomes. Now, Mahomes and Haskins are not nearly on the same playing field, but Haskins played in the West Coast offense during college. The West Coast offense is the Redskins’ offensive scheme that runs off of power running and short or intermediate passes.
The Redskins’ quarterback reads three routes in a triangular pattern. Usually, the routes contain shallow crosses, digs, posts, corners, and double moves. The quarterback tends to throw the cross against a man-to-man coverage while he attacks the zones with posts and corner routes.
Back to Haskins weaknesses, let’s dive in and see what Smith does that can make Haskins one tier better in the NFL.
Footwork is tough for the 6’3″, 230 pound Haskins. However, if he can learn half of Smith’s techniques, Haskins can improve his passing game and make himself lighter on his feet too.
In this clip, we see that Haskins struggles with keeping his feet in a good position. Instead of bouncing on his feet, Haskins stands flat-footed. He also takes wide steps that cause his legs to be more than shoulder width apart and this can affect his balance. We notice it causes him to throw the short pass with all of his arm strength. The arm throw causes a lack of power and accuracy and leads to the incomplete pass.
On the other hand, Smith stays light on his feet. He first fakes the handoff then bounces on his feet that are shoulder-width apart. He keeps his feet moving until he releases the ball. The quick feet allow Smith to face his target, step and throw toward his target. Smith can also use some leg strength so he can have more zip on the ball and reach the target easily.
Looking back at Haskins, we notice he takes a similar three-step and reads the defense. Instead of keeping his feet bouncing, he slows down and begins to try driving downfield. However, without being light on his feet, he struggles to break free so he forces a throw. The forceful throw goes incomplete due to Haskins’ inability to keep his footwork mechanics rolling every play.
In this play, Smith does a crisp three-step and keeps his eye locked on his first option the whole time. He realizes the corner is in a man-to-man against his wide receiver’s curl route. By the time Smith finishes his three-step, he steps into his throw and zips the ball into his receiver’s hands. The forward step allows Smith to add power and accuracy to his throw like a baseball player. If Haskins can do that consistently, he will upgrade his gameplay tremendously.
Even though Haskins is a pocket-passer who is much bigger than Smith, half of Smith’s footwork mechanics can allow Haskins to complete more passes and roll out of pockets easier.