3 top-tier QBs Taylor Heinicke is currently outperforming
By Jerry Trotta
It’s funny how quickly things can change in the NFL.
About five weeks ago, fans of the Washington Football Team were calling for Taylor Heinicke to be benched amid a run of bad games.
We hammered that drum for a little bit, too. For as much success Heinicke had moving the ball downfield and conducting long drives, his inability to finish off drives in the red zone were contributing to losses.
Over the last three games, though, Heinicke is playing as good as any QB in the league. No, that isn’t an overstatement.
Sure, the red zone struggles returned in the win over Seattle, but he completed nearly 80% of his passes and showed tremendous poise in the pocket, ripping off a couple highlight-reel scrambles to avoid getting sacked.
In light of Heinicke’s dominant run of form, let’s highlight a few elite gunslingers he is currently performing better than.
3 top-tier QBs Taylor Heinicke is outperforming
3. Justin Herbert
There were a lot of QBs in contention for the third spot on this list. Josh Allen was considered, but his four-TD showing on Thanksgiving disqualified him. Baker Mayfield’s been dreadful, but probably doesn’t fall under the top-tier category.
You could even make a case for Ryan Tannehill, but that’d be a little harsh given his receiving corps is ravaged by injuries.
In the end, we gave the nod to Justin Herbert. Remember when the Chargers were on top of the world at 4-1 and gaining steam as a threat to supplant the Chiefs atop the AFC West? That feels like ages ago, because LA is now 6-5 and clinging to a Wild Card spot by the skin of its teeth.
A large reason for that? The inconsistency of Herbert. While the former No. 6 overall pick has tallied five games with a passer rating of 100.0 or better (three with 120.0 or better), he has six games with a rating lower than 90.0
Two of those have come in the Chargers last three games, both losses. During that span, the young phenom is completing 65.5% of his passes for 293.3 yards and six touchdowns to four interceptions.
Those stats might look OK on paper, but most of his INTs have come at the absolute worst times. In Sunday’s loss to Denver, Hebert threw a pick in the end zone with the Chargers trailing 14-7. The Broncos marched down the field on their ensuing possession to open up a two-score lead.
On the very next drive, Herbert tossed another interception that rookie Pat Surtain took 70 yards to the house to put the game on ice.
Heinicke might not be throwing for yards and TDs at the same clip as Herbert, but he’s also not putting his team’s back against the wall with poorly-timed turnovers, and that’s a huge part of playing the position at a high level.