Washington Football Team: Reality Checks for Week 3 vs Buffalo

Washington WR Terry McLaurin (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Washington WR Terry McLaurin (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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Football Team
Washington QB Taylor Heinicke (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

1. The Reality Is, Heinicke passed his pop quiz Sunday, but this week he’s got a true test.

There’s been very limited tape on Taylor Heinicke. Both starts for Washington came on short notice with small windows of time for prep by opposing defenses. And in both cases, he had limited practice reps as well. He’s handled those opportunities about as well as you could possibly ask. Now, he’s got an away game against an excellent defense. And they’ll have a full week of prep for him. And they’ve got 7 quarters of tape on him from the last two weeks. And he’s had a full week of prep with the first team offense and a full week of film study knowing he’s the starter.

Can he rise to the occasion under “normal” circumstances? Or is he only good when he’s got the element of surprise? I’m not ready to anoint him as having arrived quite yet. And just like one win against a bad Giants team didn’t win him the starting job for the remainder of the season, one loss against a very good Bills team wouldn’t be reason to jump off the Heinicke Hype Train.

But, another solid, starter-quality, outing – and this on the road against a quality defensive team – would be difficult to downplay. And if Heinicke were somehow able to pull off a win and look good doing so? Well, let’s just say Heineken would be calling him at that point.

Prediction: Door number 2 will be the outcome this week. Heinicke will play well, the offense will look competent and competitive, and the Bills will pull out a relatively close win. And while the signs will be encouraging from both the defense and the offense, it will end up being mistakes and penalties that cost Washington a chance to upset Buffalo. Look for a relatively low-scoring affair: Bills win 23-21, Hopkins gets no field goal attempts, Heinicke throws for over 300 yards but has a lost fumble in the red zone early in the game, and the defense can’t get off the field in the fourth quarter as the Bills mount a 8-minute game-ending field-goal drive for the win.

Don’t kill the messenger. I hope I’m wrong.