There are still questions marks surrounding the Washington Football Team's offense entering the final week of the NFL preseason. Perhaps the biggest remains under center with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Taylor Heinicke fighting for reps as the starting quarterback.
Fitzpatrick, who signed a one-year, $10 million deal this offseason, likely earns the nod first thanks to his proven vet status - and proven ability to get the ball downfield. But Heinicke, the playoff hero of 2020, has improved each week of training camp in coordinator Scott Turner's system.
Are either good enough to win the NFC East? Maybe so. Would another QB have worked instead?
Mitch Trubisky has entered the chat.
The notion of a "pointless preseason game" aside, Trusibky's stellar outing against the Chicago Bears on Saturday proved that there's still plenty to work with in his overall game. Four years after being dubbed a "bust,'' the No. 2 pick of the 2017 NFL Draft is now with the Buffalo Bills.
He sure looked like a passer that could have won with the right coaching staff at Soldier Field. The only problem? That coaching staff resides in Buffalo.
"It felt good to come back and play well," Trubisky said Saturday, via the Bills team website. "And I owe a lot of that to my teammates. Run after catch, great plays on defense, great plays on special teams. We dominated the field position and turnover battle in the first half and we did our job on offense and scored points. I just thought we were efficient."
Should Washington have picked up the phone this offseason to add him to the mix?
WFT coach Ron Rivera spent nearly the entirety of his time with the Carolina Panthers working with Cam Newton. A former No. 1 overall, Newton was a rarity: a deep-ball passer with the ability to use his legs in the open field - as a power runner.
Trubisky isn't that. In fact, he's the polar opposite.
During his four seasons with the Bears, Trubisky averaged roughly 6.7 yards per pass attempt. Newton averaged 7.3 yards per throw, only hitting below 6.4 YPA once in 2019.
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That year, the now-Patriots' quarterback played in just two games. It would also be both Rivera's and Newton's final season in the Queen City.
Fitzpatrick, who already has connected three times for 20-plus yard throws this preseason, has averaged over 6.9 YPA since 2015. During his two seasons with the Dolphins, he averaged 7.5 yards per play, and had an 11.3 yards per catch average with his receivers.
Trubisky's receivers only averaged 10.5 yards per catch during his four seasons. In Saturday's game, his longest throw came on a 26-yard reception to tight end Jacob Hollister. The throw itself roughly went about six yards while Hollister added another 20 after the completion.
Turner's approach this offseason was to expand passes downfield. Last season, Washington QBs averaged 6.3 yards per attempt, .4 yards less than Trubisky. And sure, every passer can launch one pass deep, but it's about consistency.
WFT placed an emphasis on building on deep plays by adding in names like Curtis Samuel, who recorded 19 plays of 20-plus receiving yards. Fitzpatrick's track record fits the format that Rivera and Turner are looking to add.
Heck, even Heinicke (7.2 YPA) finished with a higher rate than Trubisky last season.
Scheme fit does matter to a quarterback's success. Seeing Trubisky look natural throughout his progression might speak louder to the development of Buffalo's offensive coordinator Brian Daboll than the QB himself.
Keep in mind this isn't the Daboll's first QB makeover. One season after drafting Josh Allen, he was tasked with transforming the 2018 first-rounder into a stable option.
Two years later, Allen finished second in the MVP voting and recently signed a massive six-year extension worth up to $258 million.
Maybe Washington will still has questions about the game's most integral position come midseason. Neither Fitzpatrick or Heinicke are viewed as long-term options, which could cost the reining NFC East champs a shot at the postseason.
Still, for what Rivera is looking for, he made the right call. Trubisky might revitalize his career, but Washington wasn't his home sweet home under this current staff.
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