Some players get so nervous and worked up before their NFL debuts that they make themselves sick.
For Dwayne Haskins, the reaction happened afterward.
The Washington rookie quarterback was reminded this past week of the first game action he saw back in Week 4 when he took over for Case Keenum, completed 9 of 17 passes for 107 yards, was sacked twice and threw three fairly pathetic interceptions in the Giants’ 24-3 victory.
"I throw up watching that film," Haskins told reporters as he prepared for his second chance to make a first impression against the Giants on Sunday. “I don't like watching that tape. That's a totally different guy."
It feels as if it’s been a long time since the Giants faced Washington in late September. A number of the cast from that event didn’t make it this far, winding up on injured reserve or the bench or, in the case of Washington coach Jay Gruden, fired.
And as for the two main characters on whose shoulders the next chapters of the rivalry will be built – Haskins and fellow rookie quarterback Daniel Jones – well, to many, they are barely recognizable.
"It's just I'm a whole different player than I was back then,” Haskins said.
The Giants agree.
“It’s hard to compare because he just got thrown in there,” Pat Shurmur said of Haskins’ debut. “I see a guy who is improving. He was an outstanding college player, obviously. We did a lot of work on him. As he plays more and more, he has displayed the ability to get the ball out quickly. They’re embracing some quick concepts so that he can deliver the ball. I think I’ve seen a lot of improvement in his play each week, and I think that’s a credit to him.
“Now we’ve had a chance to see him play. He’s made really good improvements and he’s had a real positive impact on their offense.”
Jones was making only his second start the last time the teams met. But he, too, has evolved in the three months since.
“Better,” Washington interim coach Bill Callahan said of Jones now versus Jones then. “Improved. I see a lot of quality things. He reads progressions, the timing of decisions are coming quicker, faster.”
The Giants seem impressed by Jones, too.
“I feel great about his progress to this point,” Shurmur said. “I think he just needs to continue to progress.”
Jones and Haskins, selected sixth and 15th overall in the 2019 draft, are nearing the end of their rookie seasons. They’ll always be linked because of where they were drafted: at the top of the same first round, at the bottom of the same division.
Neither player was drafted with the intention of playing him this season. Jones was supposed to sit behind Eli Manning for a season and learn from him. That plan lasted two weeks before Shurmur made the switch. Haskins was going to do the same with Washington, but he was waiting behind two veterans. They got hurt, his head coach got fired, and his timeline was moved up.
“Usually if you’re drafting a first-rounder, they sit for a while, they learn, and they obviously are gaining more experience through that knowledge in the classroom and through the drill work,” Callahan said. “I think the initial plan for Dwayne was that he was going to sit for the entire year, and that course changed over the first five weeks … The season wasn’t going well, so the option of playing Dwayne was a little bit more important just because of where we’re at.”
Now here they are. Both are the established starters for their franchises, albeit with growth still ahead of them.
Jones and Haskins have thrown a combined 23 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions, fumbled 21 times and won four games.
“Some quarterbacks play every snap, some young quarterbacks take over midseason or early in the season or late in the season,” Shurmur said. “What you want them to be able to do is play the position well and lead their team to victory. That’s what you want, that’s what we expect of any player. Especially the quarterback.”
"I think every rookie quarterback, they’re going to take their lumps,” Callahan said. “You’re going to take some lumps, learning protections and pressures and understanding where people are coming from and how to protect yourself. It’s challenging, man. It’s really challenging. The more you see the field and you understand it, the more experience you get, you get better at it. It goes back to the invaluableness of being on the field and getting that game-time experience.”
Will they be different players when next they meet? Almost certainly. They’ll be at least second-year quarterbacks, having gone through an offseason with their team. They’ll be older and wiser. They’ll have grown up.
They already have.