It happened again. For the second year in a row, the Washington Commanders have suffered an injury to their de facto franchise quarterback. On Monday, it was reported Carson Wentz would miss 4-6 weeks with the fractured ring finger he suffered in the team’s Week 6 win over the Bears on Thursday Night Football.
Like Dak Prescott, Wentz will undergo surgery and faces a similarly-timed spell on the sidelines due to a fractured finger. The injuries are different, but it’s worth nothing Prescott suffered his injury in Week 1 and hasn’t played in the five games since, though he’s planning a Week 7 return vs the Lions.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that Wentz misses five games. Four of those games are arguably the biggest on Washington’s schedule: home vs Green Bay, at Indianapolis, which means no revenge game for Wentz, home vs the 5-1 Vikings and at Philadelphia, which means no homecoming for the former Eagle.
Will Taylor Heincike keep the ship afloat until Wentz is ready? Or will the Commanders continue sinking? If the latter scenario becomes reality, it’s worth speculating if the former second overall pick has played his last snap for Washington.
Will Carson Wentz play another down for the Commanders?
Hear us out for a minute. Let’s say the Commanders go 1-4 in their upcoming gauntlet against the Packers, Colts, Vikings and Eagles. That puts them a 3-7 before games against the Texans and Falcons, which aren’t shoo-in wins, and back-to-back fixtures against the 5-1 Giants, who are entrenched in the playoff conversation.
Right now, do you have more confidence saying Washington will still be relevant by then or that they’ll be in contention for a top 5-7 pick? After getting lucky to beat the woeful Bears, chances are they won’t have much to play for when Wentz is ready to return unless Heinicke takes the league by storm again.
That’s the thing. Heinicke isn’t taking anyone by surprise this year. He won seven games for Washington in relief of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now, though, the league has 15 games and 494 pass attempts of film on the veteran.
Again, anything can happen. Maybe the Commanders go .500 with Heinicke under center and Wentz reclaims the starting role with a Wild Card berth still in play. Or maybe the clock strikes midnight on Heinicke and Washington is in play for one of the top quarterback prospects in the raved-about 2023 class.
If the Commanders are four or five games under .500 by the time Wentz is recovered, wouldn’t it make sense to unleash rookie Sam Howell? With nothing to play for, the franchise might as well see what it has in its fifth-round pick, no?
Why go back to Wentz at that point and run the risk of his snap share climbing back up to 70 percent? Remember, the 2023 third-round pick Washington traded to Indianapolis turns into a second if Wentz plays 70% of the snaps.
When you consider the difficulty of the Commanders’ upcoming schedule, the fact they’re already behind the eight balls in terms of the playoff picture and that they invested a draft pick in a QB who shined in the preseason and it’s really not crazy to think Wentz has played his final snap for the burgundy and gold.