Washington Redskins: Alex Smith looks to mentor another future MVP-caliber QB (PFN Film Room)

The Washington Redskins landed their guy in Dwayne Haskins with their first selection of the 2019 NFL Draft. They're going to need the help of Alex Smith, however, to develop him into the quarterback they hope that he can become.

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.

Haskins’ Footwork

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.

Pocket Movement

Once again, Haskins is a bigger quarterback who tends to sit behind his tackles. Despite doing that in college, the Washington Redskins offensive line won’t be as helpful as Ohio State’s line was. Haskins will need to be able to roll out of the pocket smoothly and complete passes outside of the tackles in the upcoming season.

If we look at Haskins rolling out, his hips and larger body do not make it capable to move smoothly.

In the spring game, Haskins’ left tackle misses his block. Haskins realizes and begins to spin and roll out to the left. If we look closely, Haskins takes a wide turn that pushes him back at least 7 yards. He then turns all the way around and resets his stance so he can complete the pass.

With the Washington Redskins and in the NFL, Haskins does not have the speed to drop back 7+ yards nor reset his pose so he can throw a perfect ball. If Smith teaches Haskins how to roll out like the clip below, Haskins will be sacked less and complete more passes.

In this video, Smith makes an immediate 180 degree turn compared to dropping back 7+ yards. Smith then attacks the line of scrimmage so he can build up power and create confusion if he will run or throw the ball. This causes defenders to close in on him and open up receivers down the field.

Smith guiding Haskins with pocket movement will change Haskins from a strong rookie quarterback to a possible generational talent. The movement in the pocket with his size can make him as hard to tackle as Ben Roethlisberger.


At the NFL Combine, Haskins ran a concerning 40-yard dash. This may have been one of the reasons as to why Haskins fell in the first round and landed in the laps of the Washington Redskins. Also, he struggles to slide like Joe Flacco. At Ohio State, Haskins was willing to take a defender head-on. But with NFL linebackers, he must learn how to avoid traffic and slide correctly.

In this clip, Haskins notices his routes are covered up. Penn State is about to get a coverage sack until Haskins runs through the middle. He busts for as many yards as possible before diving head first in the ground. The risk of that can either be an injury or fumbling the ball. Instead, Smith needs to guide him in the running game too.

Smith also notices the pressure is creeping again and no routes are currently open. He tucks his head and breaks free down the middle. Smith stays small as a ball carrier then slides before contact.

If Smith can teach Haskins how to be a smaller target and how to slide, Haskins can slowly adapt to a dual-threat quarterback. Plus, the offensive scheme can begin adding RPO plays to the playbook to throw off defenses.


As of right now, Haskins is a quarterback that relies on a clean pocket. If anyone pressures the inside, he will panic, throw off his back foot and make a bad pass. He can also waste possessions by releasing too early due to pressure attacking him. Smith must teach Haskins to be more patient or move around in the pocket for a better view of the field.

Final Verdict

Smith is capable of pushing Haskins to a whole new level. With Smith’s mentoring, Haskins has the potential to be the Washington Redskins starting QB by Week 1. In addition, he could become a mobile quarterback with a 6’3″ frame.

Overall, the problems Haskins is dealing with are not red flags. But, the better and quicker the Washington Redskins fix them, the quicker they can contend for a Super Bowl.

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