It was fairly apparent by Sunday afternoon that Ryan Fitzpatrick wouldn’t be under center for the Washington Football Team for the team’s next game. On Monday, September 13th, the team confirmed those inklings, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Washington is placing Fitzpatrick on injured reserve with a hip subluxation.
After confirming Fitzpatrick’s injury with reporters, head coach Ron Rivera announced that backup Taylor Heinicke will serve as the team’s starter on a short week when they welcome the New York Giants into town on Thursday night (h/t NFL.com’s Nick Shook). Kyle Allen, who started four games for Washington a season ago, and 13 games for Rivera while in Carolina, will man the No. 2 gig behind Heinicke.
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Heinicke Starred Against Tom Brady Last Postseason
Heinicke, a former member of the XFL’s St. Louis BattleHawks and a Walter Payton Award recipient (most outstanding offensive player in the FCS) while starring at Old Dominion, became an overnight fan favorite for Washington last season after a stellar playoff outing — albeit a loss. Heinicke went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady in his first NFL start. He finished the contest completing 26-of-44 passes for 306 yards and one touchdown. He also added another 46 yards and a touchdown on the ground in Washington’s 31-23 loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers.
The 28-year-old stepped in for the injured Fitzpatrick in Washington’s 2021 opener, essentially picking up where he left off last season. Heinicke completed 73.3% percent of his passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. However, he once again fell short, dropping their Week 1 bout with the Los Angeles Chargers, 20-16.
The Giants defense, who was lauded for much of the offseason as one of the league’s better secondaries, surrendered 264 passing yards and two touchdowns to Teddy Bridgewater in the team’s Week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Could Heinicke Hold Onto the Starting Gig for Washington?
Fitzpatrick will be eligible to return from injured reserve as early as Week 5 against the New Orleans Saints. While Shook noted that “there isn’t yet any indication Fitzpatrick’s season might be finished,” that timetable may be a bit too overzealous.
While the 38-year-old Fitzpatrick is Washington’s preferred quarterback as of now, rumored speculation of Rivera sniffing around a potential reunion with Cam Newton has already gained momentum. However, it’ll more than likely be Heinicke who’ll have the next few weeks to showcase his staying power under center. According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, Washington expects Heinicke will step up to the plate and deliver in Fitzpatrick’s absence:
Others might count out Washington now that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s down. Or speculate on Cam Newton’s landing there. I’m here to tell you that staff believes in Taylor Heinicke—whose history with Washington OC Scott Turner goes all the way back to Turner’s scouting him out of Old Dominion, then getting the Vikings to sign him as a college free agent in 2015. He was good last year. He was good in the summer. Is he going to become a 10-year starter in Washington? No. But he’ll be fine in the short term.
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