These miscues summed up Taylor Heinicke’s performance vs Cowboys
By Jerry Trotta
The Washington Football Team came up short against the Dallas Cowboys.
It wasn’t a memorable performance by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s at least a positive to be had in the fact that Washington made it a one-score game in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.
While the defense played well enough to win, the offense, led by Taylor Heinicke, was an entirely different story.
We’re not sure if he was overcome with nerves or simply had a bad day at the office, but the 28-year-old quarterback was a big reason why Washington found itself trailing by multiple scores for most of the afternoon.
For the game, Heinicke finished 11-of-25 for 122 yards and a touchdown and interception. Those numbers aren’t pretty, but they don’t begin to illustrate just how erratic the Old Dominion product was.
We sang Heinicke’s praises during the team’s four-game win streak, when he played as good as any QB in the league, so it’s only fair that we harp on his lowlights…and there was no shortage of those on Sunday.
The first just so happened to come on the turning point in the game.
These miscues defined Taylor Heinicke’s performance for the Washington Football Team on Sunday.
Ignore the fact that Micah Parsons is a freak of nature for a second. We initially pinned the blame on Brandon Scherff for getting bulldozed by the star rookie. While the veteran guard didn’t cover himself in glory on the play, he impeded Parsons’ momentum for close to 10 yards.
Already in the shotgun, Heinicke can’t backpedal as much as he did. It didn’t help that Curtis Samuel and Ricky Seals-Jones ran into each other, but Heinicke set his OL up for failure by drifting into no man’s land. Since he was drifting, he should’ve felt the pressure and protected the football by the time Parsons got home.
These are little details, but they made all the difference on Sunday.
On our first watch, Heinicke made at least four throws, not including his interception, that could’ve been picked off. With Washington trailing big, he entered hero mode and tried to gain everything back in one play.
The worst of the bunch came when he tried to hit Cam Sims, who was surrounded by not one, not two, not three, not four but FIVE Dallas defenders.
This snapshot is just a terrible look.
Somehow, the pigskin fell harmlessly to the turf. If you take a look back at the replay, Terry McLaurin didn’t have a defender within his vicinity. We’re not sure how, but Heinicke didn’t spot him.
Heinicke made throws similar to this during Washington’s win streak. They just got glossed over because he was otherwise brilliant, made up for it in crunch time and the team was churning out wins. Nevertheless, he needs to make these reckless throws a thing of the past as soon as possible.
Another low moment for Heinicke came early in the third quarter, when he waved McLaurin downfield and under threw him by…a lot. To make matters worse, McLaurin entered concussion protocol after taking a hard fall trying to reel in the pass and didn’t return.
Taking a 40-yard shot downfield to your star WR is fine if all of your other pass-catching options are blanketed. However, watch Curtis Samuel (No. 10), in motion on the play, leak out WIDE open near the sidelines.
Beyond Samuel, John Bates was in acres of space beyond the first down marker and Heinicke could’ve simply ran to move the chains.
See the problem? Heinicke was so fixated on trying to get Washington back in the game that he completely lost his bearings.
We want to see more deep shots to McLaurin, who almost came down with the catch, but if we had to choose between what amounted to a Hail Mary on 3rd and 5 and picking up the first down, we’d side with the latter every time.
And finally, we get to Randy Gregory’s tipped interception.
The pass was actually tipped twice; once by an approaching pass rusher (Dorance Armstrong) and once by Gregory.
Again, credit to Dallas’ defense for making a play, but Heinicke has to get the ball up and over Armstrong and Gregory. It was a perfectly designed bubble screen to DeAndre Carter, who had a cavalcade of blockers in position to mow down would-be Cowboys tacklers.
It honestly could’ve gone for a touchdown, but Heinicke got complacent and gift-wrapped a turnover for Dallas.
It’s crazy how fast things can change in the NFL. One minute, we’re praising Heinicke for outperforming a trio of elite gunslingers. The next, we’re picking him apart following a disaster performance at home vs the Cowboys.
We won’t go as far as to say Heinicke derailed all the stock he built up during the winning streak, but he came pretty darn close on Sunday.
Luckily, he has the memory of a goldfish and can undo all of this with a bounce-back showing (and a win) over the Eagles this weekend.