Here’s exactly how the Commanders should handle their QB dilemma
By Jerry Trotta
Off-field distractions have engulfed the discourse surrounding the Washington Commanders this week. It’s a shame, really, considering they face their toughest test of the season in Philly against the Eagles on Monday Night Football. Unfortunately for Eagles fans, they won’t get to heckle former QB Carson Wentz.
Wentz is currently on injured reserve after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured finger suffered against the Bears in Week 6. Wentz is eligible to come off IR this upcoming week and play in Week 11 against the one-win Texans, which is the game most fans circled on their calendars as an ideal landing spot for Wentz post-injury.
At the same time, though, fans are hesitant for the quarterback to return and start the remaining games so as to not to trigger the 70% snap threshold that would turn the 2023 third-round pick sent to the Colts into a second-rounder.
But shouldn’t winning trump all other variables?
With Taylor Heinicke coming off a shaky performance vs the Vikings, it’s highly possible Monday night is his last chance to stake his claim as the starter.
If you asked NFL Media writer Dan Hanzus, he’d argue Wentz should reclaim the starting job once he’s activated from injured reserve.
Should the Commanders star Carson Wentz over Taylor Heinicke when the QB is back healthy?
Here’s what Hanzus said of Washington’s QB “controversy” in his latest power rankings, where he ranked the Commanders No. 25 overall.
"There’s an odd thing going on in Washington with Taylor Heinicke. The backup quarterback has proven over the past two seasons that he’s a middle-of-the-road type of player … and yet the crowd at Commanders games absolutely loves him.Sunday’s loss to the Vikings featured multiple “Hein-i-cke!” chants, which mostly died out after the fiery QB sailed a pass over the middle for the Harrison Smith interception that set up Minnesota’s game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Heinicke’s passion has endeared him to the fan base, but don’t be surprised if Ron Rivera turns the keys of the offense back over to Carson Wentz when the time comes."
Wentz certainly has his flaws, but Hanzus hit the nail right on the head here, even if he disrespected the Commanders in these power rankings. How is Washington lagging behind the Raiders, Cardinals, Packers and Bears?
But we digress. Short of leading Washington to an unlikely win over the Eagles on Monday night, all signs point to Wentz reclaiming the job once he’s healthy.
Heinicke’s leadership, scrambling ability and undeniable penchant for delivering in the clutch are appreciated by fans, but the offense would’ve scored 20 points in two weeks if not for Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel hauling in miracle jump balls.
Heinicke overthrew Logan Thomas by a good 10 feet on his fourth quarter interception against Minnesota and he’s lucky to not have more than three INTs in his three starts.
Outside of the final drives vs the Packers and Colts, Heinicke’s been pretty poor. Between throwing off his back foot, being carless with the football, pressing to make plays (especially vs the Vikings) when it was uncalled for, and needing his receivers to bail him out of potential turnovers, it’s no surprise why Hanzus and countless Commanders fans want Wentz back under center in Week 11.
Again, this all means nothing if Washington upsets Philly. Assuming that doesn’t happen, Ron Rivera should give the keys of the offense back to Wentz as soon as the quarterback is healthy enough to start.
If Wentz underperforms, and the Commanders get eliminated from playoff contention with a couple games to go, then by all means see what you have in Sam Howell.
That should be the way forward. Plain and simple.