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Washington QB Taylor Heinicke: The Mental Adjustment for Packers

What looked like an overcorrection in Week 6, should come back a little, in Week 7

It's a story dreams are made of. Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke is back at school, and just about everyone thinks his playing days are behind him. Even himself. 

And then, in the blink of an eye, he's on the surface of FedEx Field leading the NFC East Division Champion WFT against the eventual Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He, and his team, lost that game. But he gained so much in that 60 minutes of game action. More than he'd ever gotten before it. 

A new contract, and an all but solidified spot on an NFL roster for the 2021 season, for starters.

Speaking of starters, when quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick went down just barely inside the regular season, it was Heinicke's time to take the reins. Ever since, it's been everything we expected, and everything we didn't. 

Depending on the side of the story you fall on, you either expected Heinicke to fall on his face, or fly to the top of the rising stars list. And you've seen flashes of both this season. 

His last outing, which resulted in a 31-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and just one snap in the red zone, was potentially his worst from a film standpoint.

And it means more time in the film room, and talking with coaches, trying to fix the nuances of how he executes the game plan on a weekly basis. 

"Look (at) the last two games. I feel like I've just been trying to be perfect and trying to make the perfect read every play," said Heinicke, the young journeyman who recently went back to take college classes in part because he wasn't sure of his NFL future. "It doesn't really allow me to be who I am or allowed me to be my best."

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This echoes the sentiment head coach Ron Rivera shared earlier this week, and something about the quarterback's play which bothered me personally on two occasions. 

Against the Buffalo Bills, and again against the Chiefs, Heinicke looked to be fighting his natural abilities as a quarterback. 

He's not a running quarterback, per se, but he's a passer who can make things happen with his legs. Trying to minimize that part of who he is, eliminates part of what made him so effective against the Buccaneers this past January, in the first place.

The question was, is it a byproduct of Heinicke's mentality himself, or something he's being coached to do?

We seem to have our answer

"That's something that we've talked about and I feel like we're kind of, I don't want to say, make a change, but just have a different mentality going into every play," Heinicke said. "If the first, second read is not there, let's make some things happen and go from there..."

Make some things happen can mean throwing a guy open, or when you have the athletic ability Heinicke does, running.

We certainly hope to see more of both.