A week in the NFL: Taylor Heinicke’s performance against the Buccaneers proves himself as a great NFL Talent

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I think all NFL fans had the same question this past Saturday night: who is Taylor Heinicke?

Well, to be honest, I didn’t know either, but we figured out pretty quickly that this kid was something out of the ordinary.

Heinicke battled between making rosters to battling with injury and getting cut, but he had a mental toughness that had led him to this spot in his career. 

Taylor started his football career playing at Old Dominion where he was a four-year starter. He had a 67% completion rate as he went on to pass for just an astounding 15,000 yards and 132 touchdowns. Heinicke, then a 22-year-old, would enter the 2015 NFL Draft. He went undrafted but eventually signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent, winning the job as the third-string QB. Unfortunately, Heinicke’s battle with an injury led him to be cut right before the 2017 season. He signed with the New England Patriots soon after but yet again was released a month later.

After the Carolina Panthers were battling with quarterback injuries midway through the 2018 season, head coach Ron Rivera brought in the young Heinicke to appear in six games that year for the Panthers. His only start came in week 16 against the Falcons where he completed 33 of his 57 passes with a touchdown as well as three interceptions. Heinicke was replaced by eventual starter Kyle Allen and was released the following offseason.

After sitting out from football for a year, Heinicke made a roster spot in the resurgence of the XFL. The St. Louis BattleHawks decided to sign him; the season was short-lived though due to the sudden surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Heinicke would’ve never thought that he would get another shot in football ever again, but after a series of releases and cuts, Rivera, now the head coach of the Washington Football Team, decided to bring in Heinicke yet again as the practice squad QB. He was then promoted to backup QB to starter Dwayne Haskins, but when Haskins was benched (and eventually released), Taylor got his shot yet again. He completed 12 of 19 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown in Washington’s loss to the Panthers.

When Washington beat the Philadelphia Eagles in week 17 to secure the NFC East, the assumption was that Alex Smith, a journeyman in and of himself, would start in their upcoming playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This was the case until he was declared inactive due to a nagging calf injury. The odds were already stacked up against Washington with Smith starting, but now with Heinicke getting the nod, the chances were slim. I didn’t even believe that Washington could win until I saw this unheard QB named Taylor Heinicke throwing dimes all over the field.

Heinicke didn’t necessarily get the start he wanted in the first half, but when he came out of the locker room to start the second half, someone must have got into his head as he went off. He rushed and passed for a touchdown in the second half, putting his body on the line while dodging and breaking sacks on what seemed like almost every play. He finished with 306 passing yards, completing 26 of his 44 passes. Heinicke showed heart on every play that he was out on the field for and never gave up. He showed true passion as an NFL player that we haven’t seen in a very long time.

We can all agree that Heinicke deserves to be on the Washington Football Team’s roster next year after that performance; whether it is as a backup or a starter, fans across the league will be rooting him on to succeed as an NFL QB.