ASHBURN, Va. - Before the argument even really begins, the answer is "no.''
The Washington Football Team does not have on this roster a "No. 1 quarterback,'' not even by the most optimistic of standards.
Do they have a few No. 2's? Yes. And Alex Smith - hard to project as a No. 1 because of his age, injury history and compromised mobility - fits nicely into that "good backup'' category.
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What of the hottest name in town? Taylor Heinicke is not at No. 1. He doesn't have experience, a strong arm or a history of durability - tough-guy nature aside. It's not, "Three strikes and you're out'' in this case. But three strikes against a player who at 27 is a known NFL commodity is more than enough to know that WFT does not have the guy here that it needs to consistently win nine-plus games per year.
Sorry, Washington Football fans. It was an epic performance on Saturday night. One for the ages, despite the loss. It will be remembered forever.
But Heinicke is not a 16-game starter. That's the reality.
Coach Ron Rivera knows this, or he wouldn't have answered our question on Sunday about the quarterback situation this way. ...
The guy he likes, perhaps more than the others, is Kyle Allen. That's why Washington traded a fifth-round pick to Carolina for him last year, and why he was anointed the starter after Dwayne Haskins.
The problem? Allen has an injury history now after his double knockout of games against the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants, the latter for the season.
In addition, Allen does not have a lot of experience or a particularly strong arm. But he does have what Heinicke has: mobility and knowledge of the system.
Both are fairly accurate throwers, and Heinicke's ball placement in the playoff loss to Tampa did impress at times.
The Washington Football Team has had eight different starting quarterbacks in games since Kirk Cousins was allowed to leave ... all evidence that Washington handled his situation as poorly as imaginable.
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Alex Smith, Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Josh Johnson, Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke comprise that "Walk of (Organizational) Shame'' list. In total, the WFT started four different quarterbacks in each of the 2018 and 2020 seasons and three in 2019, with some "repeat offenders'' (Haskins, McCoy, Smith).
Smith has a $23.3 million dollar cap charge in 2021 and one more non-guaranteed year after that at an even higher charge. It's far from a certainty that Washington wants him back at that particular cap number next year, even if Smith wants to play again - which is very likely the case.
Steven Montez is in the mix, too, despite not having played one snap. He almost did on Saturday night. He was for one game considered the true No. 2. The organization signed him as an undrafted free agent, the same way coordinator Scott Turner did with Allen and Heinicke.
They say, "When you have two quarterbacks, you really have none.'' What do they say when you have essentially four quarterbacks and could draft a fifth? Ron Rivera knows what they say.
The Washington Football Team still needs a No. 1 QB.