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Washington QB Taylor Heinicke Out vs. Eagles, But ‘The Man’ For Future?

Has Heinicke shown enough in 2021 to give him the job in 2022? - The Washington Football Team Daily Blitz Podcast

Since the injury to Alex Smith, the Washington Football Team has been searching for a bonafide week-in-and-week-out starting quarterback. And of course tonight comes another search of sorts.

Welcome to the Washington Football Daily Blitz from Washington Football on FanNation and DSP Media.

Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Taylor Heinicke have all started at least one game for WFT since 2018. 

Oh, and tonight at Philly, COVID being what it is, another stater in Garrett Gilbert.

But after this … 

Has current starter Heinicke done enough to deserve a chance to get a shot moving forward? Is he the long-term answer in D.C. at quarterback?

While Heinicke has been ruled out against the Eagles in Tuesday's Week 15 rescheduled matchup, what about beyond? 

If nothing else, Heinicke has shown some grit and resiliency. Fitzpatrick went down in Week 1 and Heinicke entered the game and has not looked back since.

That Week 1 opener was a loss to the Chargers, but in Week 2 Heinicke led a fourth-quarter comeback against division rival New York. He was at the helm during a four-game losing streak, then after the bye, he led the team during a four-game winning streak.

It's been an up-and-down year for Heinicke and Washington. But in Week 12 against the Cowboys, he may have given indication he's not the quarterback of the future in Washington, but he's certainly capable of wins and maybe even a playoff run if the team is healthy.

Examining his game, Heinicke has had positive moments but also shown reasons for concern.

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After the bye week, Washington was looking to get back in the win column after four losses in a row. The team visited Tampa Bay while Washington had yet to defeat a team over .500.

The Washington defense held Tom Brady and the Bucs to just 14 points and 4-of-10 on third down.

Heinicke led a passing attack that bested the Tampa Bay defense and finished 26-for-32 with 256 yards, one touchdown, and a 110.4 quarterback rating while tearing up the Bucs defense with play-action and pre-snap motion.

Per Sports Info Solutions, Heinicke with play-action is 106-for-146 with 1,188 yards, eight touchdowns, and no interceptions. Without play-action, he's much worse with 172-of-272 passing for 1,743 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.

Let's jump ahead to the Cowboys in Week 14. Dallas is obviously aware of Heinicke's trends with and without play-action and disguised some coverages to force Heinicke's hand.

Washington had to abandon all play-action against Dallas because of the speed of linebacker Micah Parsons.

When Heinicke did not have play-action to help him, his game suffered.

Heinicke is perfectly capable of being a "system quarterback" who can thrive when all aspects of his offense and defense are clicking, but when things go wrong anywhere within his scheme, he isn't as good.

As far as 2021 goes, if Heinicke can keep the turnovers to a minimum and the club can stay healthy and COVID-free, Washington has a good shot at the playoffs. Well, pending tonight, anyway.

But beyond 2021? Coach Ron Rivera and Washington will have to make a decision at the quarterback position. Do they think they can develop Heinicke further or is there a better option?

At least it's a familiar problem for Rivera as he's had to not just juggle quarterbacks on the roster this year due to injuries and COVID protocols, but even beyond the roster as Gilbert has been signed to handle the duties under center against the Eagles on Tuesday - a short-term tryout for him, and then a month-long “tryout” for Heinicke.