Why was Ron Rivera so against benching Taylor Heinicke for Kyle Allen?
By Jerry Trotta
The Washington Football Team’s season didn’t end the way they would’ve hoped, but at least they disposed of the New York Giants in what will likely be head coach Joe Judge’s and general manager Dave Gettleman’s final game with the franchise.
There’s gotta be some satisfaction in that, no?
At the very least, it was nice to put Judge back in his place after his entirely groundless dig at Washington early last week.
We’re not here to harp on the negatives in what was mostly a positive game for Washington. The defense, though it wasn’t really tested by New York’s sorry offense, allowed just 177 yards and produced three turnovers.
The offense, however, was a different story. If not for Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin breaking the elusive 1,000-yard mark at their respective positions, it would’ve been a day to forget for Scott Turner’s group.
The main reason for that? One Taylor Heinicke, who was truly lucky to see out the entire game under center.
Speaking of which, did Ron Rivera forget Kyle Allen was on the bench?
Why couldn’t Kyle Allen get some snaps against the Giants?
Look, the last thing we want to do is nit-pick the final game, especially when it was meaningless and especially since Washington won.
However, there’s no hiding from the fact that Rivera was playing with fire by blindly entrusting Heinicke with running the offense.
For the game, Heinicke finished 9-of-18 for 120 yards and zero touchdowns. He has McLaurin, who did his best Sean Taylor impression on Xavier McKinney, to thank for not throwing an interception. He missed a WIDE open Cam Sims, who’s 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, on what should’ve been a pitch-and-catch TD.
We love Heinicke’s story and he was a main reason why Washington was even in a position to clinch a playoff berth down the stretch, but these throws prove why the club will be in the market for a QB this offseason.
Getting back to Allen, though, did Rivera forgot he invested a fifth-round draft selection to bring him in from Carolina?
Those kind of assets don’t grow on trees.
Well, guess what? Allen is a free agent. With Heinicke likely returning as the backup next season, it’s likely Allen’s played his last down for Washington. All in all, he’s appeared in six games (four starts), amassing a 1-3 record while completing 67.9% of his passes for 730 yards and 5 TDs to one INT.
That’s not the return you want for a fifth-round pick.
Nobody’s saying Allen is the second coming, but what did Heinicke do over the final month of play to keep the job? The fact he did so flies in the face of Rivera’s so-called plan to use both QBs over the final three games.
Since those comments, the only playing time Allen received was in garbage time of the 56-14 massacre in Dallas a few weeks ago. Yet another example of Rivera being loyal to a fault when it comes to Heinicke.
Is this a big deal? Probably not.
However, it wouldn’t have hurt to see Allen to play somewhat meaningful snaps with Heinicke hitting a wall since returning from the COVID list. Even with Washington eliminated from playoff contention, Allen still couldn’t sniff the field.
This isn’t just about the game. It’s about giving up a fifth-round pick to have a competent quarterback waste away on the bench behind a starting QB who’s inaccurate and can’t push the ball downfield.
This could’ve been applied to a number of games this season, too.
For added perspective, Tyreek Hill, George Kittle, Richard Sherman, Stefon Diggs, and Matthew Slater were all drafted in Round 5. Not saying Washington would’ve hit on that pick, but it stinks we’ll never know.
Again, we’re thrilled with the win, but Rivera’s refusal to bench Heinicke just shed more light on his decision to trade for Allen.
After Sunday’s game, it can only be viewed as a mistake.