When opportunity finally came for the Redskins first-round signal-caller to showcase his talent, struggles were abundant.
Then, over the previous two weeks, Haskins looked like the No. 15 overall pick; he began to show flashes of what Washington fans hoped their future franchise QB would look like.
Just as things were rounding into form, though, Haskins came crashing down on the wrong end of a Markus Golden sack. With an injured ankle to show for it, Haskins' rookie campaign has concluded a game early and just when it seemed to get going.
"I think [his growth] was ongoing all the way up until his last snap there when he got hurt there at the start of the second half the other day," O'Connell said on Friday, via team transcript. "I was so proud of him."
In a Week 15 loss to the Eagles, Haskins turned in his best effort to that point, completing 19-of-28 passes (68 percent) for 261 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and 121.3 quarterback rating. Just a week later against the Giants, he looked even better, completing 12-of-15 attempts for 133 yards, another pair of scores, no interceptions once more and an even better 143.2 rating. It was resounding improvement from whence Haskins made his NFL debut against the Giants in Week 4 off the bench and threw three interceptions and compiled a lowly 32.8 rating.
"We had talked a lot in here last week about his performance against the Eagles and could we carry it over and kind of pick up where he left off in that game and he was obviously able to not only do that, but whatever he did to start that game -- 10-for-10, 9-for-9, whatever it was -- and then even looking at it, even on his incompletion, it was a good incompletion," O'Connell said. "I think that's the biggest thing for him is just his improvement from the first time he played against the Giants to the last time he played against the Giants, just his overall efficiency within the position snap-in and snap-out in the confines of our offense while also eliminating the football [plays] and giving us a chance as an offense to, not only him personally but all those guys, get into a rhythm and then the growth obviously of those young players around him was huge for us."
Though Haskins showed positive signs of progression before his early exit, the Redskins are surrounded by uncertainty going forward in just about every area besides their first-rounder leading the way in his second season. Jay Gruden was fired as head coach mid-season and Bill Callahan has taken over. O'Connell also seems to have drawn a bit of buzz as a head-coaching candidate.
No matter where O'Connell ends up, though, he intends on being there for Haskins.
"I'm going to definitely talk with him no matter what because I care about him, we've spent so much time together this year and I really believe in him," O'Connell said. "I'm going to talk to him about the growth that happened. Yes it happened because you're a talented player, yes it happened because you were able to have experience and get game reps and all that stuff is great, but what I'll go back to with him is the work and just the ability to come in and understand what it's like to prepare as an NFL starting quarterback."