With the Washington Football Team set to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, the question on the minds of many is which version of Taylor Heinicke will show up in Week 10. Heinicke made his first start for Washington against the Buccaneers in the 2020 Wild Card game. Heinicke got the starting nod as a result of Washington’s depleted quarterback room. Alex Smith and Kyle Allen were both sidelined by injuries and Dwayne Haskins was released before the regular-season finale. Against the Buccaneers, Heinicke threw for 306 yards and kept Washington on the verge of defeating the Buccaneers, who went on to win Super Bowl LV. It was in this game that the legend of Taylor Heinicke was born. Since the 2020 Wild Card game, Heinicke has shown flashes of living up to the legendary moniker, but at other times, the legend has looked like a myth. Heinicke must be more consistent.
Taylor Heinicke Has To Show Consistency in Order To Remain a Starting Quarterback
Version 1: The Legend
The legend of Heinicke was born on Saturday, January 9, 2021, when Washington faced the Buccaneers in the playoffs. Heinicke was making only his second career start when he replaced an injured Alex Smith. Heinicke’s play kept Washington in the game against the Bucs, who were led by quarterback Tom Brady. The Buccaneers defense was also among the league leaders in points and yards allowed. Heinicke finished the game with one passing and one rushing touchdown. The rushing touchdown is what gave life to the legend of Heinicke.
On a third-down play in the third quarter, Heinicke avoided the Buccaneers rush and went diving for the pylon, which led to a Washington touchdown. Following the play, Washington defensive end Chase Young pointed to Heinicke’s name on the back of his jersey, and the legend was officially born. While Washington eventually lost to the Buccaneers, 31-23, no one could deny the gutsy performance by the Washington quarterback.
The legend of Heinicke has also appeared in Washington’s two wins this season. Heinicke led the team on game-winning drives against the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons. Against the Giants, Heinicke completed 73.9 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 99.5. Against the Falcons, he completed 69.7 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 127.1. Heinicke made timely plays in both games with his arm and his legs to lead Washington to victory.
Version 2: The Myth
After Heinicke’s playoff performance, he competed for the starting job with Ryan Fitzpatrick in the off-season. Fitzpatrick was ultimately named the Week 1 starter, but a hip injury has sidelined Fitzpatrick since Week 1. Many believed that Heinicke would secure the starting quarterback position when given the opportunity. But through seven games with Heinicke as the starter, the legend has quickly become a myth.
Heinicke is 2-5 as a starter this season. In Heinicke’s five losses as the starter, his average completion percentage is less than 60 percent, and he has thrown eight interceptions. Heinicke has also thrown two interceptions in three out of five losses. Heinicke’s accuracy and decision-making have been questioned throughout the season, along with whether he can be an NFL starting quarterback.
For Washington to begin the process of salvaging a season in which the team has underperformed, Heinicke must be more consistent and that needs to begin in Week 10. If the legend continues to be a myth, then Washington will have to continue to look elsewhere to fill their void at the quarterback position.