Commanders may have to settle at the quarterback position

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 16: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers throws a pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the third quarter in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 16: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers throws a pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the third quarter in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The Washington Commanders are a franchise that seems to perpetually be in the same problem. They are like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day, a perpetually ending circle of the same day.

While Murray’s day happened to be in frigid temperatures in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania watching Phil continuously see his shadow, Washington’s days persist of constant questions surrounding the quarterback. Or as Mitch Tischler, JP Finlay, and Pete Hailey of the NBC Sports Washington’s Washington Football Talk Podcast like to put it: “The quest for QBX.”

Really, since Joe Theismann had that gruesome injury on that cold Monday night against the New York Giants has never found a permanent answer. Some stop gaps sure. But no true answers. And frankly, that is because it is hard to find those answers.

Watching the playoffs it is easy to point to Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Matthew Stafford and say I want that. Well, yes, of course, Washington should want that. That does not make it easy,, however.

And that is why the Commanders cannot be stingy at quarterback.

Why the Washington Commanders cannot be picky at quarterback.

Albert Breer said in his Monday Afternoon Quarterback piece that the Washington Commanders are prepared to make an attempt at one of the big-name veteran quarterbacks. And, as Breer points out, they have a strong case to make to these veterans. A fairly underrated case I must say.

Good for Washington. But, to be frank, that should be a given and expected. It does not mean that it is a guarantee that trading for Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, or Derek Carr will happen though.

There is a chance that none of these guys are for sale. And there is a chance that these veterans want no part of the Commanders and their teams do right by them, trading them elsewhere. So yes, go after the big fish Rivera. He and Mayhew would be ludicrous to not stick their toe in that water.

However, let’s say Washington does not land the prized Rainbow Trout. That leaves them with two other options: a mid-tier veteran or the draft. If the Rainbow Trout option fails, the course of action that fans (and Rivera) would most likely prefer is a rookie.

Five years of cheap team control where the Commanders will most likely not have to give up much to get their guy is a dream scenario. Kenny Pickett or Carson Strong, if his medicals are okay, most likely make the most sense given they are projected to be the most “pro-ready.”

However, let’s say Marty Hurney and his college scouts deem that this class is eerily similar to the 2019 quarterback draft class. A bunch of uninspiring prospects that will take the perfect steps and course of action to get them to their ceiling and that may not be one that is very high.

In this case, it would not be smart for Washington to draft a quarterback. If everyone is not on the same page regarding a quarterback, that quarterback is set behind the eight ball. His chances of failure skyrocket.

So again, let’s run through the scenario again. The Rainbow Trout options never come to fruition. AND Washington does not like any of the rookies. That leaves Washington with one last option. The mid-tier veterans.

Jimmy Garoppolo, Teddy Bridgewater, Jamies Winston, Mitchell Trubisky or Marcus Mariota. Some fans would want to put Taylor Heinicke into this conversation, in part due to his experience with the offense.

But, frankly, Washington fans grade Heinicke on an upward slanted curve due to his story. They remember the success stories of players similar to Heinicke like Kurt Warner or Jeff Garcia and insist he can be that guy. But Taylor Heinicke is not that guy. His lack of elite arm talent combined with short stature will always keep the offense at a disadvantage.

To be blunt; Taylor Heinicke is a backup quarterback. And Washington cannot enter 2022 with him as QB1. Most of those guys on the mid-tier veterans list above are better than him. And guys like Garropolo and Bridgewater are significantly better.

To narrow it down, lets say the mid-tier options should come down to Bridgewater or Garropolo. Garoppolo is better than Bridgewater but he will cost assets to give up. On the other hand Washington can just outright sign Bridgewater in free agency, Washington would keep all of 6 of their draft picks and could still draft a quarterback in round one.

But Garoppolo probably won’t cost no. 11 either and they could use the eleventh pick on another separator at wide receiver. At the absolute most, Garoppolo will cost Washington’s second round pick. So, to be honest, either option would be fine.

For context on the upgrades Garoppolo and Bridgewater provide lets look at three advanced stats: EPA per play (efficiency), CPOE (Completion Percentage over expected), and DVOA (efficiency with opponents taken into consideration). Garoppolo ranks 5th in EPA, 7th in CPOE and is the 5th best QB in DVOA out of 31 eligible QBs. Bridgewater ranks 9th in EPA, 4th in CPOE and 10th in DVOA respectively. Heinicke ranks 24th in EPA, 19th in CPOE and 22nd in DVOA.

Bridgewater and Garoppolo would be significant upgrades from Heinicke. They would allow Washington to stay on time and on rhythm within the offense and they would open up Scott Turner’s playbook.

The point is this: Washington cannot be picky at quarterback. There is a chance that the starting quarterback for Washington was a 49er or a Bronco last year. And that is okay.

Just because you are not going to make an A in your class, does not mean you should settle for a D. Bs and Cs have their value too. Take for example, middle linebacker, Washington would love to get an A level player at that position. But right now their veteran, Jon Bostic, is, at his best, a C- level player.

So, if a B option becomes available they should take that. With the Washington Football Team being one of the betting favorites to land Garropolo via trade, fans should not look at that as a failure. It would definitely be disappointing to not land one of the elite quarterbacks.

But Garropolo or Bridgewater would definitely provide consistency at a position Washington desperately needs it at. They would be upgrades at the most important position in football. They both would be quarterbacks that would give Washington a chance to make the playoffs. And, as the 49ers, showed this postseason once a team makes it anything can happen.

The Washington Commanders should aim high but be prepared and willing to take Plan B. There should be no shame in that. This roster that carried Washington to seven wins against the hardest schedule in football with Taylor Heinicke as QB1. It is safe to say that it is talented enough to get to the playoffs, and potentially make some noise, with a steady veteran signal caller.

Next. 5 QBs to fall back on if masterplan goes awry. dark