Dwayne Haskins Jr. is in need of a bounceback game after his performance against the Cleveland Browns, and he is set up to have that opportunity against the Baltimore Ravens.
Haskins, who came into the Week 3 matchup without an interception, threw three picks and lost a fumble against the Browns in a 34-20 loss. He played well in spots, but his turnovers played a large role in the game, as Cleveland turned them into 24 points.
It's undeniable that the Ravens are one of the best teams in the NFL, even after accounting for their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. However, their 26th-ranked passing defense could offer Haskins the chance to show the progress head coach Ron Rivera is looking for in his second-year quarterback.
"He just has to learn and understand that you don't have to make the big play all the time," Rivera said after the game. "Plus, you have guys that can make plays so all you need to do is get the ball into their hands and let them go out and make plays."
The common theme for Haskins' interceptions was that he was staring down receivers, according to Rivera. Two were thrown into tight windows when he should have moved on to other options, while the last was the result of B.J. Goodson undercutting Haskins' pass on a 3rd-and-15.
If Monday's game was a blueprint for how to have success against the Ravens' defense, It would be to spread the ball around to multiple receivers. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns, targeted 11 different players and completed passes to eight of them.
After the Browns game, Haskins knew he needed to put more trust in his progression to find second and third options.
"Finding the running back and finding the check down is something that I will continue to work on and get better at and not trying to make everything back when you have a penalty, sack, incompletion or third-and-long or whatever the scenario is trying to make and put you in bad spots," he said.
The past three weeks have shown that the Ravens are susceptible to long plays. The unit allowed seven pass plays of at least 10 yards against Baker Mayfield and the Browns. That was followed up by 11 against the Houston Texans and 15 against the Chiefs.
And while the Washington Football Team's offense is currently ranked 30th in total yards, it has shown the ability to break off big plays. Thirteen of Terry McLaurin's 16 receptions have resulted in gains of at least 10 yards, while Haskins' touchdown passes to Dontrelle Inman against the Browns were 17 and 11 yards, respectively.
"Both of them were excellent balls," Rivera said Monday, "that were thrown where they needed to be thrown to give Dontrelle the chance to make a catch, which he did."
The Ravens' defense ranks 10th in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), per Football Outsiders, but it has struggled against the pass, allowing 268.7 yards per game. It's a chance for Haskins to put last week's game behind him, and he knows he has to play better.
Haskins and Rivera had a conversation about that topic Monday, and he challenged himself to show progress.
"In all honesty, I know I can be better," Haskins said Wednesday. "I know that I have to be better for this offense, and in order for that to happen, I have to put the work in. Everybody can sit there and feel sorry for yourself or have a pity party or blame other external factors as to why it is what it is, but I really preached this offseason of being self-aware and understanding your mistakes and understanding how you can progress and get better for yourself."
Haskins has thrown for at least 200 yards in two of three games, but he has the chance to perform above his average against the Ravens. Quarterbacks have combined to complete 65.8% of their passes for 849 yards and six touchdowns to two interceptions. And there is a good chance Haskins will have time to work through his progressions with the Ravens forcing just six sacks through three games.
Haskins spent all offseason working on his mechanics, and he admitted he was not pleased with how he played against the Browns. As he moves on to preparing for the Ravens, he continues to stress the importance of understanding situational football.
"Just understanding that and understanding situational football and grasping what they're trying to do to us in order to take what they give us," Haskins said, "and that's what I'm going to keep working on and getting better at."
Rivera still believes in Haskins. He said the only opportunity for the young quarterback to grow is for him to be on the field. But Rivera has to see positive growth, and Sunday's game will offer another chance for Haskins to show that.
"He will get better," Rivera said. "He will grow, and I think he is a guy that we can follow."