When the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Dwayne Haskins in January, he got a new lease on NFL life. As a young quarterback, to get an opportunity not only to be coached by one of the best in the NFL in Mike Tomlin but also learn behind future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger — had to be a dream come true, right?
Especially considering that Haskins burned his bridges with the Washington Football Team almost as quickly as they were built. Just 20 months after he was selected 15th overall in the 2019 NFL draft, Haskins was released.
Les Carpenter of The Washington Post detailed why:
“His Washington tenure was filled with odd incidents, such as missing the final snap of his first NFL victory because he was taking selfies with fans, or the photos that emerged last week of him partying maskless hours after a loss, a violation of league coronavirus protocols. There were loads of complaints by frustrated coaches on two staffs who were stunned by his constant late arrivals to meetings, failure to master the playbook and refusal to prepare for games as diligently as NFL quarterbacks must. Several around the organization questioned his ability to lead and repeatedly said poor throws in practice would carry over into games.”
If there’s an organization that could help Haskins turn things around, it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tomlin is widely known around the league as a leader of men. Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl rings and the second-most experience in the NFL behind Tom Brady.
Fast forward 10 months. Being surrounded by greatness in Pittsburgh doesn’t seem to have made much of an impact on Haskins.
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One Play Away
NFL Network reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala posted this observation on Twitter the day after the Steelers tie with the Detroit Lions. It’s not an opinion. It’s a fact. And, as usual, Kinkhabwala was ripped to shreds for posting it.
Kinkhabwala has watched her fair share of backup quarterbacks prepare for game day during a decade-plus covering the NFL and knows from first-hand experience what the pregame routine of a true second-in-command looks like. So much so that she dedicated an episode of her NFL Explained podcast to “Backup Quarterbacks.” Kinkhabwala went into great length about backups she’s observed — including former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch — about the special nuances of the position and how he could be called upon at any moment to lead his team.
As she’s done on game day for a dozen years, Kinkhabwala stood on the sideline next to Steelers coaching staff members and watched Rudolph’s backup prepare.
“We watched Dwayne Haskins throw some not very good passes,” Kinkhawala told The Fan. “One of the members of the Steeler staff said to me, ‘Look at that, look at that. How ridiculous is that? That’s just lazy. That’s just a lousy ball.'”
What followed, Kinkhabwala explained, was Haskins playing on his phone. “Players do have their phones out, but this was in its entirety as opposed to, Oh my goodness, this is my moment. This is my chance. This could be my last chance. I’m going to be as locked in as I can possibly be. That is not what we saw,” she said.
Haskins did not look like he was one play away from taking the field. He was not focused, he was not dialed in, he was not ready to lead.
“Mike Tomlin is so good at getting the most out of guys in their second chances and encouraging them to recognize their second chance in the moment,” Kinkhabwala said. “Well, from my reporting and from the people that I was speaking to, there was a level of disappointment that Dwayne Haskins does not seem to understand. This could be his last chance, and there is a way you approach that.”
There you go, Steeler Nation. Not only is Rudolph not prepared to be the future in Pittsburgh, Haskins isn’t either. And if Mike Tomlin can’t help him, no one can.
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