Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke is in his fourth NFL season but let’s look at Heinicke from a different perspective. Being in his fourth season would suggest that Heinicke should be further along in his development; however, context matters. In Heinicke’s four NFL seasons, he played in 15 regular-season games and started seven. Heinicke also has one playoff start to his credit. Should we look at Heinicke as a four-year NFL pro, or should we look at Heinicke as an NFL pro with seven regular-season starts?
Taylor Heinicke: Looking Through a Different Lens
A Fair Comparison
The 2017 NFL draft included quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, selected second overall by the Chicago Bears. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was selected 10th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs, and quarterback DeShaun Watson was selected 12th overall by the Houston Texans. Trubisky has 50 regular-season starts in his career and one Pro Bowl selection. Mahomes and Watson both have 53 regular-season starts and three Pro Bowl selections. Mahomes is the only member of this group with a regular season and Super Bowl MVP award to his credit.
Heinicke was undrafted out of Old Dominion University in 2017. Assuming a player remains on the active roster, a player drafted in 2017 would be entering their fifth NFL season. Heinicke is only in his fourth season because he was not active on an NFL roster in 2019.
As a rookie, Trubisky went 4-8 as a starter. Mahomes won his lone start as a rookie and Watson went 3-3 as a starter in his first year. All three quarterbacks made the Pro Bowl in their second NFL season.
Is it fair to compare Heinicke to the quarterbacks in his draft class? Or should we look at Heinicke from a different perspective?
Heinicke’s True Contemporaries
Heinicke’s true contemporaries are individuals that have a similar amount of experience as an NFL starting quarterback, not years in the league. Let’s look at Taylor Heinicke compared to Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence and New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. Lawrence has six NFL starts to his credit. In six starts, the Jaguars have a record of 1-5. Lawrence has completed 59.7% of his passes and thrown for 1,465 yards. Lawrence has also thrown seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.
In seven starts, Jones has led the Patriots to a 3-4 record. He has completed 70.4% of his passes and thrown for 1,779 yards. Jones has nine touchdowns and six interceptions. In six starts, Heinicke has led Washington to a 2-4 record. Heinicke has completed 64.3% of his passes and thrown for 1,658 yards. Heinicke has thrown 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Lawrence and Jones both have one fourth-quarter comeback and one game-winning drive to their credit. Heinicke has two fourth-quarter comebacks and two game-winning drives to his credit.
A Different Perspective
Statistically, Taylor Heinicke is fairing better than Lawrence, the number one overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Heinicke’s stats are comparable to Jones, who the Patriots selected 15th overall as the heir apparent to Tom Brady. The Jaguars and Patriots both believe they have their franchise quarterback under center. Washington does not appear to feel the same way about Heinicke. Lawrence and Jones have been allowed to take their lumps as rookie quarterbacks; Heinicke has not received the same opportunity. With that being said, maybe we should make a fair comparison and look at Heinicke from a different perspective.
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