Quarterback Dwayne Haskins got his opportunity to play quality snaps on Friday night for the Pittsburgh Steelers, starting the preseason finale and playing about three quarters in total. By any reasonable measure, he failed, leading the offense to just nine points, six of which came on a meaningless last-minute touchdown in a 25-point loss.
Haskins is competing for a roster spot at the quarterback position after being picked up as a Reserve/Future signing in January, having been waived at the end of December by the Washington Football Team. Washington drafted him in the first round just a year earlier, 15th overall in 2019.
While his final outing was a rather poor one, his total body of work throughout the offseason process did show a level of growth and maturity that could possibly be molded over time, and which should be enough to earn him a roster spot over Joshua Dobbs. But that doesn’t mean he’s content with what he’s achieved.
“I’m never satisfied, but definitely feel like I’ve done a good job of applying myself to the situation”, he said after Friday’s loss, “and doing the best I can to show how much I want to be on this team and how much I want to be able to help this team and have a role on it. I feel like they’ve given the opportunity to do that. I’m just thankful for that, and I’m looking forward to getting ready for the season”.
There was a sense, at least by some, that Haskins could still be in contention to serve as the Steelers’ backup quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger, though head coach Mike Tomlin’s announcement that Mason Rudolph would not play in the finale was taken by others to mean that he would retain his backup role.
“We just want to give him an opportunity. He’s a new guy to us”, Tomlin said prior to Friday’s game about why they were giving Haskins such a big opportunity to log snaps. “And so we’re going to get him more exposure. We want to get more exposure to him to gain understanding. And so we’ll know when we get there”.
The Steelers are in the twilight years of Roethlisberger’s career, which puts the spotlight on the backup position as those on the outside debate about whether or not any other quarterbacks on the roster have the potential to be a starter.
Roethlisberger is in the final year of his contract after agreeing to a $5 million pay cut this offseason, and the sense is that he will not be re-signed, and will likely retire after this year. I don’t think many are confident either Rudolph or Haskins will be a proper successor, though, no matter how much time they have to grow.