Last week: No. 16
The Washington Commanders are now officially Taylor Heinicke’s team.
After downing the Texans in emphatic fashion Sunday, the Commanders have won five of six and are above .500 for the first time since winning the season opener. Heinicke has won four of five starts in place on an injured Carson Wentz, and after Sunday’s victory head coach Ron Rivera told reporters that regardless of Wentz’s health, Heinicke will start next week against the Atlanta Falcons.
For his part, Heinicke said he’s going to enjoy the ride for however long it lasts.
“I take every opportunity I can get and have fun with it,” Heinicke said. “Something may change in two weeks and he’s back in there. Who knows? But this week I’ll have fun with it, go out there and hopefully get a win. I feel I play my best doing that. I just want to keep this thing rolling. The biggest thing for me is to try to be a clean quarterback, get the ball in those playmakers’ hands and let them do their thing.”
By just about any objective measure, Heinicke has outplayed Wentz. The team has certainly rallied around him. And there’s at least one other reason for the Commanders to stick with Heinicke.
If Wentz plays 70 percent of Washington’s snaps this year, the Commanders owe the Indianapolis Colts a second-round pick in 2023. But if Wentz fails to hit that benchmark, the pick becomes a third-rounder.
“At 6-5, the Commanders are technically the worst team in the NFC East,” Sobleski said. “Yet Rivera’s squad has won five of its last six games. Wentz’s injury opened the door for Heinicke, and the Commanders have been a better team because of the change. Granted, Heinicke hasn’t lit the world on fire. Yet he’s extending plays and getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers, particularly wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who has 352 receiving yards, including two 100-plus-yard efforts, in the team’s last four games. Rivera’s decision to name Heinicke the starter was the right move, and the Commanders could benefit with a surprising postseason appearance.”