On the Carson Wentz reunion tour schedule for 2022, Week 10 was circled.
After Wentz’ finger injury ended the Philadelphia homecoming storyline, Washington Commanders backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke grabbed the headlines and perhaps the starting job.
It was the fourth win in five games for the Commanders under Heinicke, who handed the Philadelphia Eagles their first loss of the season, 32-21. Heinicke’s potential to remain in charge was as relevant as Washington knocking its rivals from the ranks of the unbeaten this week when Wentz is eligible to return from injury reserve.
Heinicke said after the game if he’d done enough to start when Wentz returns. “I have made a lot of mistakes throughout the games, but again, it’s one of those things where if my number is called and I have to play, let’s go out there and play, and I will do my best, so we’ll see.”
Heinicke finished Monday night with a 66.9 rating after completing 17 of 29 passes for 211 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. In spite of this, he was the winning quarterback and his record as a starter improved to 3-1. He made big throws when needed and led an offense that moved the chains for a resounding 40 minutes and 24 seconds.
We felt if we controlled the line of scrimmage and ran the ball, we could slow things down, and that’s what we did,” Commanders coach Ron Rivera said. “I mean, the dude’s a dynamic quarterback and he’s done a great job so far.”
On Monday, Rivera celebrated Heinicke, but shut down any talk about who will start when Wentz returns on Tuesday.
We’ll discuss that tomorrow,” Rivera said.
Despite Heinicke’s mediocre stats on Monday, the Commanders are winning with him at the helm. In contrast, Wentz is 2-4 as Washington’s starter this season, including a 24-8 loss to the Eagles in Week 3.
Heinicke was 7-8 as a starter in 2021 and threw for 209.7 yards a game, 20 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. The Commanders traded for Wentz, of course.
In OTAs, I said that Carson should be the starter and I would be ready to go in if my number was called. In other words, whatever decision they want to make, let’s go,” Heinicke said. “If I am backing up Carson next week, great, I will help him get ready for that Texas game in any way I can. I just want us to keep winning, whether I am playing or not.”
Heinicke has been the underdog who provides a spark and galvanizes his teammates, as opposed to Wentz’s leadership.
The way he plays, his grit, it’s hard to beat the underdog mentality sometimes, and that’s him, Rivera said.
Heinicke or Wentz will be decided later, but if this is it for Heinicke as the Commanders’ QB1, it was a memorable last start.
Probably the biggest win of my career, Heinicke said. “It’s a division opponent, undefeated, at their place, on a Monday night?”
Over the last four weeks, Washington has experienced excitement and wins in the standings. Both had been absent prior to that. Perhaps Heinicke knocked off Wentz’ old team and took his place.