The Washington Football Team coaching staff made a very gutsy decision to start Taylor Heinicke over the reliable Alex Smith in a playoff game. It paid off.
On Saturday night, Taylor Heinicke put on a show. He went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady, who some consider the greatest football player of all time. He pushed the ball down the field, was slippery in the pocket, and made an incredible play on his touchdown scramble.
Simply put, Taylor Heinicke gave Washington a chance against the Buccaneers last night.
Unfortunately, the Washington Football Team defense met Tom Brady. He surgically picked apart Washington’s strength, the defense. The game wasn’t so much about the defense being lackluster but more so about Brady being Brady. The loss, however, should not detract from Heinicke’s incredible performance.
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And it should not detract from the incredible job the coaching staff has done this year. The Heinicke experiment can be directly attributed to this coaching staff.
Heinicke was signed directly after the Washington Football Team beat the Pittsburgh Steelers to be the quarantine quarterback. Essentially, Washington could avoid what Denver faced against New Orleans when all of their quarterbacks were declared ineligible due to COVID protocols, so that’s why they added Heinicke.
In a move that many ignored at first glance, he became a crucial part of the team. To sign a guy that, at the time, you did not really need is great foresight. The coaching staff deserves credit for even bringing in Heinicke.
Then came Saturday Night. Alex Smith’s calf injury never progressed after he started in Week 17. He was immobile. Yet the guy behind him was a quarterback who had only started one game. Most people would have just went with ol’ reliable and hoped your defense came through.
However, the coaching staff knew that neutralizing Tom Brady and his abundance of weapons was going to be hard. They knew the offense needed to be more dynamic. And they understood that Heinicke gave them that chance.
So, in a playoff game, they went away from the 15-year vet and put their season on a guy making his second career start. And then Heinicke rewarded them with a performance that rivaled that of Brady.
Heinicke was fearless. He had guts. He gave Washington a chance. He went blow for blow with a team that is talented enough to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
The coaching staff went away from the 15-year vet. They put their season in the hands of a quarterback making his second career start. And then they formed a game-plan that best suits Heinicke’s strengths. Huge credit to Scott Turner for a great game plan last night.
Washington had a chance to mount a game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter. They trailed by just eight. Against a team that is much more talented than the Washington Football Team, they competed. Many expected them to get run off the field. They did not.
It says a lot about this coaching staff to have a player who just got here a month ago and just found out he was starting a playoff game the night before to be that prepared to play. In a season that the coaching staff has earned a lot of credit, they went out with one of their best performances.
There are many reasons to be optimistic about the outlook of the Washington Football Team. The coaching staff is pretty high up on that list. For the first time in a long time, Washington looks like a professional outfit. The team and Heinicke gained a lot of respect last night.
The coaching staff, in a year where nothing was normal, especially for this team, transformed Washington from a frat house into a professional operation. Heinicke’s performance was a microcosm of that transformation. Rivera and the rest of his coaching staff deserve a lot of praise for what they’ve been able to do in such a short time in Washington.