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Can Dwayne Haskins re-capture his OSU magic and become the heir apparent in Pittsburgh?

While the outlook is bleak, Haskins is still young enough and arguably talented enough to carve out a career in the NFL.

Haskins rose to great heights at OSU, before crashing down to the surface in the NFL. He will look to rebound and prosper with a new franchise.
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Each Friday for the past month or so, I have examined the fantasy football boom or bust potential of former Buckeyes in the NFL. Guys like J.K. Dobbins and Ezekiel Elliott seem primed for big seasons, while others are late-round fliers or waiver wire targets. In the case of Michael Thomas, there is a very real chance that he was recently put under an inadvertent Land Grant Holy Land curse. This week, we are going to look at the future potential – or lack thereof – for a high draft pick turned (current) bust. This is about whether or not he can turn his career around, not so much projecting how many fantasy points he might put up. Dwayne Haskins has a roster around him that is built to win. His role and future success is dependent upon many factors, not the least of which is his own work ethic and dedication to improving.


Full disclosure: I am not driving the Dwayne Haskins bandwagon. I appreciate everything he did at Ohio State, and I definitely thought he would find success in the NFL. His 2018 season should be remembered as one of the best individual seasons in program history. Hell, he might still be in the record books decades from now. Unfortunately, I believe Haskins has since squandered a great opportunity and lost a privilege that 95 percent of football players would do anything for. I think arrogance, entitlement, immaturity, and selfishness are all to blame. However, I still hold out hope that the former Buckeye can turn things around.

Haskins somewhat surprisingly fell in the 2019 draft, and he was plenty vocal about it. He promised that teams who passed on him would soon regret their egregious error… but maybe all those teams were right. The quarterback who infamously beat out Joe Burrow for an OSU starting gig, was a disaster from the get-go in Washington. His ability to process and make decisions at an NFL level was below average, at best. His decision-making off the field was even worse. Questions about his maturity and commitment persisted throughout his tenure with the Washington Football Team. It came to a head in 2020, when Haskins attempted to sneak around COVID-19 protocols — or just chose to ignore them completely. He arranged for an unauthorized guest to stay at the team hotel, and was benched after Week 4. COVID was not the only cause, as his play in weeks 1-3 was not good. Despite a year plus of poor performance and apparent lack of development, he was given another chance late in the season. Haskins was inserted into the lineup again in Week 14, this time due to injury. He started the next week, but was seen at a party without a mask after the game… which they lost. Gotta celebrate, right? He was released before the end of his second season, which is extremely rare for a high draft pick.

Now Haskins is being given another chance (his fourth or fifth or sixth… but almost assuredly his last) in Pittsburgh. Perhaps the structure and stability of the Steelers’ franchise is exactly what the young quarterback needs. The Washington organization has been a mess for years — basically since Dan Snyder took over as owner. They have failed to produce a winning football team, and there have been plenty of internal controversies. Pittsburgh is the exact opposite. The Rooney family and their organization have stood atop a solid foundation for decades, they hire the right coaches, and they have the success to show for it. While Haskins deserves plenty of blame for his time in the nation’s capital, he was not exactly thrown into a positive environment. Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger could potentially be the right coach and mentor to get Haskins back on track. His tenure got off to a bit of a rocky start due to a recent domestic incident, but details have been sketchy. The team seems to have no current issue with him.

So what about Dwayne Haskins, the football player? Despite my many criticisms, I think he could eventually be successful. I would encourage Ohio State fans to feel the same way, as he accomplished some great things in Columbus. Haskins was known for his incredible arm strength, and it does not appear as if that has diminished. Where he has struggled is the cerebral part of the game. He owns a 3-10 record as a starter, and the stats show that he was not a good quarterback who just happened to be a bad football team, a la Matt Ryan or Deshaun Watson in 2020. In parts of two seasons with the Washington Football Team, Haskins completed 60 percent of his passes, and threw 14 interceptions to only 12 touchdowns. In 13 starts, he also took 49 sacks and fumbled 11 times. What is not reflected in the stats is his tendency to throw balls away, or miss an open receiver during the progression of a play. Maybe he shined at Ohio State because the scheme and the players were always better, but a more likely culprit is that Haskins has not been dialed in come game day. That all points back towards the criticism he has received in the NFL for poor study habits, lack of attention to detail, and failure to adequately prepare.

If Haskins can change his habits, and rededicate himself to being a high-end quarterback, there is mentorship potential and a collection of receiving threats in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger, for all of his own faults, has been a highly productive and winning quarterback for nearly two decades. He will end up in the top-10 or top-20 of many statistical categories, and he has shown an ability to change his game to fit different offensive schemes. He is nearing the end of his career, and should be open to mentoring younger guys at the same position. There should be no threat to his immediate job security or legacy, so he could very well become the Yoda to Haskins’ Obi-Wan.

The Steelers have offensive weapons galore, and they are all young. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and rookie Najee Harris give the team threats at every level. From a real-life and fantasy football standpoint, one could essentially throw a dart and hit a productive offensive player from the Steelers. If Haskins were able to develop and learn, he could have access to the bevy of offensive talent on that roster. One of the (many) things that worked against him in Washington was the lack of talent on offense. That would not be an issue in Pittsburgh.

Right now, Dwayne Haskins is far from being a productive quarterback in the XFL, let alone the NFL. He was recently listed as the third string QB in Pittsburgh, and he has shown very little thus far in his post-OSU career. That being said, the Steelers clearly see potential in him. At a time when most teams were content to keep away from the former Buckeye, the Steelers brought him in to compete for a job. Haskins has spoken highly of Alex Smith as a mentor in Washington, and now he has an opportunity to learn from a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Roethlisberger. The offensive skill is there in Pittsburgh, and the franchise is on solid ground. If Haskins is unable to develop significantly in his current position, he is unlikely to do it anywhere. The potential exists, but he must get out of his own way. Hopefully, as Ohio State fans, we can cheer for him again in the not-so-distant future.

Poll

Will Dwayne Haskins ever start a game for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    Yes
    (121 votes)
  • 22%
    No
    (37 votes)
  • 2%
    Not in Pittsburgh, but in the NFL eventually
    (4 votes)
162 votes total Vote Now