Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera has made it clear that the team’s starting quarterback spot is up for competition. Yes, it's assumed that Ryan Fitzpatrick will win it. But it's Taylor Heinicke's job to compete ... and, he's finding, it's Fitzpatrick's job to be a mentor.
“We just try to help each other be the best,” Heinicke said. “He’s going to want me to be at my best so we can go win some games.”
The first thing Fitzpatrick wants, of course, is to be what he's called "the guy.'' But Fitz wants the No. 2 QB to be capable, too - just in case. And so Heinicke, the former Old Dominion quarterback and much-traveled NFL journeyman, has been working on his football mechanics this offseason.
And who better to ask for help than a 17-year NFL quarterback who is even more much-traveled?
Heinicke has been working to improve his throw accuracy and arm strength, with Fitzpatrick right at his side.
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“He pulls me up to the side and he’s just like, ‘Hey, I had trouble in the past with those same things,’" Heinicke said. “He’s trying to teach me what he did to fix those things.”
Heinicke, the four-year NFL veteran who subbed last year at QB and was impressive in the WFT's playoff loss to Tampa, said it is in his nature to at times things too seriously.
The jovial Fitzpatrick has helped remind Heinicke to enjoy the journey.
“When things are kind of tough or if you have a kind of a bad day, he's [the] kind of guy to crack a joke and make you remember it’s a football game,” Heinicke said.
When Heinicke joined Washington late last season, he hadn’t been in the league since 2018 and was supposed to just be the “COVID-19 backup quarterback.'' Heinicke is now partaking in his first real quarterback competition as an NFL player.
He’ll take all the help he can get. And Fitz is giving it to him.