Taylor Heinicke as a starting NFL quarterback represents a dream-come-true football story. But out-dueling Aaron Rodgers on a crisp fall Green Bay Sunday in Week 7?
That's a fantasy. And, as it turned out for the Washington Football Team, a nightmare.
And next, as rumors persist and the NFL trade deadline looms, the next quarterback Heinicke might be dueling with will be Tua Taglovailoa.
Packers 24, Washington 10 represents another precarious dip for a WFT team that does not seem capable of defending its NFC East title. The Dallas Cowboys just did nothing but watch TV this weekend and yet they gained another half-game on Washington in the division.
It's a 3.5-game hole now, and it's not even Halloween.
Not as blood-curdling as what the U.S. government might find in those old Jon Gruden emails, but frightening nevertheless.
"It's so frustrating,'' Jonathan Allen said. "Losing teams find way to lose games.''
Rodgers (three TD passes) is of course a unique challenge, and he proved it here. (Same with Washington at Green Bay; the burgundy-and-gold hasn't won there since 1988.) And he proved something else that is being established as a WFT problem:
This remains a quarterback's game.
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How to Watch WFT vs. Seattle: Can Washington Turn Season Around?
The WFT's second primetime game of the year comes against the Seahawks who're trying to save its season, while Washington looks to further its year past the regular season.
What Stats Predict for WFT vs. Seahawks
If the games were played on paper, which side comes out on top?
Would the injured-in-Week-1 Ryan Fitzpatrick closed the gap between the Packers and the WFT in ways the undrafted folk hero Heinicke could not? Doubtful. Maybe Washington should quit issuing whispery denials about taking the overflow from a Deshaun Watson trade and grabbing Tua, and get busy examining it. Maybe Washington should've pushed for a Rodgers trade while he was (perpetuously) pouting a couple of months ago. Maybe Washington should've selected QB Justin Herbert in the 2020 NFL Draft over ...
Oh, we know. That's heresy around here, because the guy the WFT did pick, defensive end Chase Young, is a terrific talent. But Young's abilities didn't produce much here. Nor did the pedigrees of the other three first-round D-linemen employed by Washington, outside of Allen's two sacks.
Because football is a quarterback's game. Because the NFL is a quarterback's league.
Heinicke's last outing, which resulted in a 31-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and just one snap in the red zone, was poor. Taylor believes he knows what went wrong.
"I feel like I've just been trying to be perfect and trying to make the perfect read every play," said Heinicke (25 of 37 for 268 yards, with a TD, plus 10 carries for 95 yards), 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."
But "who is'' Taylor Heinicke? What is "his best''?
And "who is'' the Washington Football Team? And what is "its best''?
A 2-5 record provides one answer. And in what is forever and always a quarterback's league, maybe the NFL trade deadline can provide another.