Due to a scheduled day off on Monday, August 16th, the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff held a private practice on Sunday afternoon, closed off to anyone involved in NFL media or any fans trying to get a look at the team’s adjustments prior to the beginning of the regular season. Head Coach Mike Tomlin was quoted after Thursday night’s game saying that he did not see “enough” from certain players against the Philadelphia Eagles that would garner a response of how the depth chart is going to look. One of those players named was Dwayne Haskins Jr.
I wouldn’t say a lack of production would be the reason Tomlin decided to make that statement. On Thursday evening, Haskins actually gave all of SteelerNation a small glimpse of hope of what the Steelers future plan at the quarterback position could be, post Ben Roethlisberger. In an open competition for the backup quarterback position with 3-year Steelers vet Mason Rudolph, Haskins did his part in hopes of creating some separation between he and Rudolph by throwing for 161 yards on 16 completions on 22 attempts. While behind center, Haskins drove the Steelers offense down the field and led them on two separate touchdown drives, including a touchdown thrown by Haskins himself to rookie wideout, Anthony Johnson.
While Rudolph has not been performing badly, it seems like there is more confidence in Haskins potential future with this team. It was reported that after Haskins’ performance Thursday night, not many people around the organization were surprised with his success, making it seem like it is something this team expects out of him every time he hits the field. Haskins’ arm talent has never been in question and was one full display against the Eagles. What has always been in question was his ability to lead a team and have a “football first” mentality. Now, with the right support staff, he is in a perfect situation to learn from a future Hall of Fame quarterback in hopes of being his successor one day, and Haskins is surely doing what he can to open people’s eyes.
Despite not having any fans in the stands during Sunday’s practice, Coach Tomlin took to the mic and answered some questions fired his way from some team reporters for a Q&A period. Coach Tomlin was asked what gave Haskins the chance to play with the first team in the two-minute drill and if he liked what he saw. Tomlin responded.
“More than anything, the lesson to be learned there… The defense had an interception in its hands and didn’t finish the play. And you just can’t give signal-callers another shot at you. That was the lesson from that period. Obviously, he went on and produced a scoring drive, but when the defense gets their hands on the ball, we’ve got to close out. We’ve got to close it out. That’s the lesson to be learned from that segment of work today.”
Just like a typical Tomlin press conference, not much light was shed on the situation. No matter what the situation, the Steelers always keep their opinions in-house, not wanting their thoughts or ideas to get out to the public in any sort of way. Because of this, we have to take the small amount of dialogue we get and run with it, which is exactly what I am going to do. It seems like the coaching staff is being hard on Haskins and to be honest, I believe it is intentional. If anyone can get the best out of a player, it is Mike Tomlin. He is known throughout the league for being the type of coach a player wants to play for, and that in itself can go a long way, especially with a player like Haskins. It looks like Tomlin is going to go with the “tough love” approach with Haskins. All of SteelerNation can only hope we finally get to see his full first round pick potential come out while he is in the black and gold.
You can view the full video HERE : https://www.steelers.com/news/practice-report-august-15
Do you think Haskins will win the back-up quarterback battle? Comment below!