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Washington Football Team on the Run: Does QB Taylor Heinicke Have Green Light?

It's one thing to allow an athletic quarterback to move around, and another to game plan for it.

You might have heard by now, but Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke ran the ball as much as the majority of Washington SI readers did in the team's 31-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. 

That is to say, never. None. Zero.

And while the offense struggled to put up points for the entire second half, getting outscored 21-0, many wondered why one of the most dangerous players on the field wasn't using one of his most potent weapons. 

We've gotten some hints as to whether or not Heinicke's lack of running was coaching or player decision, but on Thursday we got a definitive answer. 

"I don't have any issue with him running," WFT offensive coordinator Scott Turner said. "But we're not really calling a lot of runs for him. It's more of his runs really come on scrambles and (Kansas City) did a nice job of really just containing him with their rushes...We called some nakeds and got him on the edge on a couple of things ... they did a nice job of really taking those away."

Looking at the film, Washington did call 'some' naked bootlegs and moved the pocket to help their mobile quarterback. 

The first, came in the second quarter on the first play of an eventual field goal producing drive, at the 12:28 mark, on a naked boot to the right of the offensive formation. 

What resulted was Heinicke having his choice of four open WFT receivers ranging from one yard past the line of scrimmage to around 20. 

He chose to take the short route, and found tight end Jon Bates for what became a seven-yard gain on the play, but a 22-yard gain because of an unnecessary roughness penalty on Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens.

They ran the same bootleg pass, if not the same then very similar, at the 11:34 mark of the third quarter as well. 

The result was a 10-yard gain by Washington running back, J.D. McKissic. That drive resulted in a missed field goal from former WFT kicker, Dustin Hopkins.

With 4:07 remaining in the third quarter, Turner again got Heinicke on the move by design on a weird looking throwback screen pass to running back Antonio Gibson. The result was a loss of four, and quite honestly probably shouldn't be called, ever again. 

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In Turner's defense, had the boot action been over-pursued by the Chiefs defense because of the two previous calls, then it could have been a big gain. 

And that was it. Three times. Out of 39 pass attempts. 

While Turner doesn't have an issue with Heinicke moving, he certainly doesn't prefer it. The numbers will show that. 

On those three passes, Heinicke completed all of them, netting the Washington offense 13-yards in offense, and 28 in total ground gained with the penalty. Of course, you can't game plan a penalty like that. 

The biggest point of confusion for us here is the use of the boot action throwback screen. 

Again, this kind of play can be executed for a big gain when the opposing side overcommits to stopping the quarterback running to the right of the formation. 

This is the type of play which is usually called back to when referring to the chess-like nature of calling an NFL game. 

Before the play, Washington had tried to get Heinicke on a boot, twice. ... Coming full quarters apart. 

If we told you we were giving you 'some' money, and handed you three nickels, you wouldn't be overwhelmed with joy.

Similarly here, three plays does quantify as 'some', but it's not nearly enough to maximize the field-widening potential Heinicke's athleticism presents, and two times in the first 40 minutes of play doesn't do nearly enough to make it a threat to the defense when trying to setup a misdirection play. 

Heinicke has to do better with his opportunities and abilities. No doubt about that. 

But in this instance, so does his offensive coordinator and play-caller