Allen Park – Football fans across the state finally could have a chance to see their team beat Dwayne Haskins on Sunday.
The Washington rookie terrorized Michigan and Michigan State fans in two seasons with Ohio State, knocking off the rivals four times in a string of double-digit blowouts.
Before being picked No. 15 by Washington, Haskins connected for 51-of-79 passing and 723 yards in four wins against this state's Big Ten programs, throwing seven touchdowns and no interceptions, helping the Buckeyes to a composite score of 167-68.
Despite their own porous defense, Detroit fans can take consolation that Haskins has struggled in his first two professional starts, both losses.
“I think he’s doing the best he can,” interim Washington coach Bill Callahan said. “For all of our team, I think we’re all rallying around him. We’re all trying to get better.”
Haskins is growing alongside a young core that includes running back Derrius Guice and rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who had the fourth-most receptions from Haskins on Ohio State last season.
McLaurin’s 35 catches leads Washington through nine games, and the third-round pick has equaled his senior year reception output for the Buckeyes in 12 games.
“Obviously the chemistry between the quarterback and him is going to be there,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “McLaurin is a speed guy. I think he’s a really good receiver. He runs really good routes.”
Haskins’ first pass to McLaurin this season was intercepted against Minnesota. In the quarterback’s two starts, McLaurin has led Washington with 10 targets.
But the production has not been good for Haskins, who is 46-of-79 passing for a 58.2% completion rate, 40th out of 45 NFL quarterbacks who have started at least two games this year – one spot below Detroit’s Jeff Driskel, Sunday's presumed starter.
With five interceptions already, Haskins’ interception rate of 6.3% is 1.7% higher than any other quarterback with at least two starts.
But with 1-9 Washington, Haskins is being thrown into the fire.
Washington optimists likely see a chance to show something against the Lions defense, which allows the league's third-most passing yards per game and has an NFL-low three interceptions.
The Lions have not intercepted a pass since Justin Coleman picked off Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter on Oct. 14. Since then, opposing quarterbacks have delivered 186 passes without an interception.
Needless to say, Haskins will have a chance Sunday to shine bright.
“I think the game becomes faster for a player and they don’t have to think as much, it comes a little bit easier,” Callahan said. “That’s probably the thing that we’re emphasizing and we’re working through right now.”
The Lions have won four straight games against Washington, tied for their longest such active streak.
Dating back to 2005, Detroit also has beaten Cleveland four straight times. The Lions have won their previous meetings with just 11 of the 31 other NFL franchises.
Haskins will be the fifth different starting quarterback that Washington has thrown at the Lions during the streak, as Detroit has beaten Jason Campbell, Donovan McNabb, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins.
The last time Washington beat Detroit was in 2008, when Campbell directed his team to a 25-17 victory over the Lions, who would finish 0-16.
The Lions have beat Philadelphia and Miami three straight times and have two straight wins against Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and the New York Giants.
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.