With Ryan Fitzpatrick placed on IR and expected to be sidelined for 6-8 weeks with a right hip subluxation, is it Taylor Heinicke’s time to claim his role as the franchise quarterback the Washington Football Team has been waiting for?
According to Dr. A. Brion Gardner at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, the best-case scenario for Fitzpatrick would be if his hip popped out 50% and went right back in, without any cartilage or labrum damage.
The worse case would be an injury that caused a tear in the labrum, which would lengthen his recovery time.
"“The typical recovery time for this injury is hard to predict without knowing of any additional injuries caused by the subluxation. If the subluxation caused a tear in the labrum as well, that could prolong the recovery to 6-8 weeks or even be a season-ending injury,” said Dr. Gardner."
It’s Taylor Heinicke’s time to shine for the Washington Football Team.
From studying for finals to starting a game against one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. It sounds like a storybook beginning, but that was life for Heinicke.
He was picked up by Washington to serve as a “quarantine” quarterback, an unorthodox role in this unprecedented time of COVID-19. What did teammates think of him when he first joined the team? I’ll let Chase Young explain.
"“I just remember him coming in, we signed him as a quarterback free agent, and I was just like, ‘Dang, who’s that little guy?'”"
Standing at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Heinicke is far from your prototypical quarterback. However, what he lacks in size, he makes up in hustle, which led to Young quickly changing his mind after seeing what Heinicke could do after taking over for Dwayne Haskins in Week 16 last year.
"“And you know that one game, he come[s] in and get[s] to slinging, and you’re like ‘O, he can go.’…Taylor, he’s just a winner, you know, he’s just going to go harder, and that’s the only thing you can really ask.”"
The do-or-die mentality. The “if you can’t pass, run” playmaking. The ability to play as if this is your last time on the field (because for a journeyman like Heinicke, it really could be). That is what sets Heinicke apart.
That is what motivates his teammates. Just ask Terry McLaurin, who was on the receiving end of this play against the Chargers.
"“I think Taylor does a great job of preparing, that’s why he’s always ready. He never looks rattled when he’s out there,” McLaurin said. And then, when he gets in the game, he makes the best out of any situation, if the play is breaking down, you saw him throw me a chest pass [against the Chargers]. He’ll run the ball if he has to. He’ll dive, and you wanna play with a guy like that because you know you always have a chance to make a big play. You have a chance to change the momentum of the game because he’s so dynamic back there and he just gives us all confidence because he knows what he’s doing.”"
Not too bad for someone with only two career starts and 92 career pass attempts. But then again, Heinicke has a thorough understanding of this offense, having spent time under current offensive coordinator Scott Turner during his stints with Minnesota and Carolina, before joining Washington.
It’s like the old quote that goes, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Heinicke has had multiple years to prepare for this moment and Fitzpatrick’s injury provides him with the best opportunity he has had thus far in his career. Now, it is up to him to make the most of it.
And it wouldn’t be totally unprecedented for him to find success, either. Kurt Warner went undrafted in 1994 and was cut by the Packers before the season. He ended up working in a grocery store for $5.50 before stints in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe, before getting his chance in the NFL at 28 years old. The rest, as they say, is history. He went on to become NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP his first year starting and would go on to have a Hall of Fame career.
Jake Delhomme is another example, and ironically enough, he spent time in NFL Europe as well, coincidentally enough backing up Kurt Warner, before getting his shot in the NFL. His first start came against the vaunted Dallas Cowboys and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, which was reminiscent to Heincke’s experience going up against Brady.
Delhomme would have to wait four more years before he was able to start a full season at 28 years old.
Just like Warner and Delhomme, Heinicke is getting his chance at 28 years old as well. And what could be more “Washington” than potentially finding your franchise QB untraditionally?
I mean, this is the Washington Football Team that has tried to find a franchise QB in the first round over and over during the past 20 years, first with Patrick Ramsey, then Jason Campbell, then Robert Griffin III, and finally Dwayne Haskins. It clearly didn’t work.
However, if you look over the course of history, some of the top QBs in franchise history were those overlooked by many teams before finding success in Washington. Joe Theismann was originally drafted in the fourth round by the Dolphins, played a few years in the CFL, and had his rights traded to Washington, joining the team in 1974. He became the full-time starter four years later and led Washington to its first Super Bowl victory in 1983.
Mark Rypien was drafted in the sixth round by Washington in 1986, spent two years on IR, and then took two more years to become the starter, before leading Washington to a Super Bowl victory in 1992.
Why not Heinicke? Why not 2021? His teammates believe in him. The team believes in him. The fans believe in him.
“We know what he can do. I think he can start on any other team in the league,” said Chase Young.
Now it’s Heinicke’s time to show the belief is warranted. It’s time for him to add a chapter to his storybook journey.
"“It’s something I’ve been dreaming about my whole life, being a starting quarterback in the NFL, and here we are,” Heinicke said. “I really try to take it one day at a time, one meeting at a time, one play at a time. I feel like if I just live in the moment, everything else will take care of itself. I don’t try and get too ahead of myself.”"
The moment arrives on Thursday when Heinicke not only has a chance to get Washington its first division win but has an opportunity to beat a Giants team that has won five straight against the Football Team.
Can he do something Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum, Kyle Allen, and Alex Smith have been unable to do by outplaying Daniel Jones and getting Washington the win? I for one can’t wait to find out.