Washington To Start Taylor Heinicke

Hours after John Wolford‘s initial playoff start, Washington will opt to use its young backup in its postseason opener.

Taylor Heinicke will start for Washington in its home game against Tampa Bay tonight. Alex Smith will be inactive. Heinicke will be the fourth quarterback to start for Washington this season, following Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen and Smith.

With tonight’s game featuring a Heinicke-Tom Brady matchup, it will mark the biggest postseason experience disparity in NFL history. Brady has made 41 playoff starts; Heinicke has made one career regular-season start, doing so for the 2018 Panthers. He replaced an ineffective Haskins in Washington’s Week 16 loss to Carolina, completing 12 of 19 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown.

Although Smith returned from a calf injury to start in Washington’s Week 17 game, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes the 16th-year veteran struggled to loosen up the injured muscle this week in practice and did not make much progress (Twitter link). Not that anyone would question Smith’s desire to play after what he’s overcome to return to action, but Rapoport describes this as a functionality issue — rather than a pain-tolerance matter — that will keep Smith out tonight (Twitter link).

Smith is essentially a lock to earn Comeback Player of the Year honors. The 36-year-old passer is signed through 2022, though Washington can entertain the notion of moving on from the former No. 1 overall pick without significant cap implications for the first time this coming offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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15 comments on “Washington To Start Taylor Heinicke

  1. crosseyedlemon

    Taylor Heinicke beating Tom Brady in a playoff game would probably be a bigger upset than Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson.

  2. DarkSide830

    an AAF and a XFL guy start in the playoffs on the same day. go figure.

  3. OCTraveler

    The way the Eagles played (tanked) last week, Smith should have saved himself for this week. With him not playing this week and Washington going into a playoff game wounded, the Giants’ anger must continue to rise.

    • Polish Hammer

      Really? Even with Smith and WTF having everything to play for they could not put away an Eagles team that had every reason not to win. Had WTF actually built up the expected lead in that game the promised QB switch wouldn’t have made any difference and wouldn’t have everyone crying foul on “the tank”.

  4. afsooner02

    Smart move chase young…call out Tom Brady and he absolutely destroys your pitiful defense.

    Heineke was the only reason this wasn’t a blowout.

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