On Saturday night, Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke made his first playoff start of his career when he went head-to-head with arguably the best QB of all time.
Taylor Heinicke went face-to-face with Tom Brady in the Washington Football Team’s 31-23 loss and exchanged shots in what became almost one of the greatest setbacks and storylines in sports history.
Heinicke wouldn’t make it to the unlikely comeback win, but he instantly became a fan favorite with his playing style.
It was a style of play that we haven’t seen in Washington for a long time. PFF Heinicke’s performance against the Bucs had been rated as the highest-rated QB game in Washington in the past 14 years.
Certainly Washington is a team building a championship-level defense. But the defense needs help. They need an offense to keep driving, and it takes points to win in this competition.
While the offense lagged for most of the season, the unit still showed Pro Bowl-caliber talent Terry McLaurin and Brandon Scherff, and had exciting playmakers in it Antonio Gibson, JD McKissic, and Logan Thomas.
This year it was difficult to look at the violation on many points. In a QB-driven competition, the Washington Football Team frankly had inept QB play. Whether it was the wasted talents of the highly-armed Haskins, or the struggles of Alex Smith returning from a devastating leg injury, the 2020 QB game just wasn’t good enough.
So it’s normal for fans to be excited when we witness what we saw from Taylor Heinicke. But is Taylor Heinicke the future QB of the Washington Football Team?
Fans will of course ride the emotion of recent performances. Experts will say he’s a one-hit wonder who wasn’t scheduled to play a game, who failed to win a runway in the XFL, and a player who wasn’t even on an NFL exhibition squad a month ago.
Here’s my take:
Taylor Heinicke gave the Washington Football Team and its fans the blueprint for what we want to see from the QB position.
Is he the answer? Who really knows? Fans certainly not. Even staff boys and coaches smell like players. And as unlikely as he may seem to be the next feel-good story of a store clerk turned Hall of Fame QB like Kurt Warner, it’s possible he could be a prolific NFL QB.
Sometimes boys like Heinicke do not show themselves well in practice. His size is disappointing, his arm seems average, and it’s hard to show intangible things like toughness and presence when playing with shorts. But what he showed us over five quarters this season is what we missed in all three QBs that played this year.
We saw a man with moxie; the stage was not too big for him. We could see the confidence he played with and the admiration he earned from his teammates. It was a similar confidence that players had with Alex Smith, but Smith lacked the mobility and health to be productive and reliable.
We saw a QB managing the violation. Sure, he played in similar systems to Turner over the years, but when he was signed on to the team as an emergency QB a few weeks ago, he practiced and prepared as if he were the starter. In post-game interviews, he spoke of 12 and 14-hour days. He wanted to be prepared in case he was called up. It’s something we desperately wanted to see from the more talented Haskins.
We saw mobility and business. Something we’ve seen in a small sample of Kyle Allen. But unlike Allen, Taylor kept his eyes on the field. That’s a trait of most greats, including Mahomes. Heinicke’s ability to read, escape the hustle and bustle, show balance in the pocket, be dynamic with his feet and most importantly, the incredible heart he played with. That, my friends, is what we’ve been missing in Washington for so long.
I’m not saying Taylor Heinicke is the future QB of the Washington Football Team, but he gave us a glimpse of how the position should be played. He proved that a skilled QB can make this stagnant offense less predictable and more explosive. He gave us hope that a QB who can come in with his playstyle can turn this offense into something we can be excited about.
Since the defense is adding the few remaining pieces to what should become an elite Super Bowl caliber unit, it is imperative that the offense is not a liability. The attack, even with a lack of talent in relation to other teams in the league, still proved able to operate efficiently with a skilled QB as we saw last Saturday night.
It’s the style of play that we witnessed on Saturday night and should be excited about. Not necessarily the player.
I really believe Taylor Heinicke played well enough to have the chance to get a seat on the Washington Football Team next year. Is he the long-term answer? Ron Rivera and his company have to decipher that. But he showed us that this transgression is not as far behind as many of us thought. They just need a skilled QB. Thanks for the blueprint, Taylor.
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