Alex Smith (QB)

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.

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Alex Smith Expected To Start In Week 17

Washington’s prospects of securing its first playoff berth since 2015 are set to improve. The team is planning to start Alex Smith on Sunday night, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Smith managed two limited practices this week, but Rapoport notes the 16th-year quarterback is feeling fine going into Washington’s win-and-in Week 17 assignment. Ron Rivera said Smith was close to playing last week. That not coming to pass ended up inducing an organizational shakeup.

Dwayne Haskins is no longer with the franchise, with Washington dropping its Week 16 starter and 2019 first-round pick the morning after he was benched. Haskins is now a free agent. A Washington roster that housed Haskins, Case Keenum and an injured Smith last year is down to just Smith, who underwent 17 surgeries to repair a broken right leg and is attempting to surmount a right calf injury. Taylor Heinicke, who replaced Haskins last week, stands to be Smith’s backup Sunday.

Nearly a lock for Comeback Player of the Year acclaim, Smith has started five games this season. Washington is 4-1 in those contests and 2-8 with Haskins or Kyle Allen starting. Smith, 36, has thrown four touchdown passes and six interceptions while averaging 6.5 yards per attempt. He will, however, face an Eagles defense that will be missing Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett. Now-eliminated Philly also ruled out Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert and DeSean Jackson.

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WFT Bumps Dwayne Haskins For Taylor Heinicke

Washington head coach Ron Rivera says Taylor Heinicke will start at quarterback on Sunday against the Eagles if Alex Smith can’t play. That leaves former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins as the QB3 on the depth chart and possibly inactive for the team’s critical Week 17 game.

[RELATED: Latest On Washington’s Ownership Turmoil]

Haskins couldn’t deliver on Sunday when he started in place of Smith. Heinicke — who hadn’t taken an NFL snap since 2018, replaced him in the fourth quarter. Washington went on to lose 20-13, capping Haskins’ day with 14-of-28 throws completed for 154 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions. Heinicke, meanwhile, went 12-for-19 for 137 passing yards and one TD.

Heinicke has been on the fringes of the NFL since going undrafted out of Old Dominion. After a brief stop in the XFL, he’s supplanted the once-ballyhooed Haskins on WFT’s depth chart. And, if Smith can’t go, he’ll have a chance to lead them to the playoffs.

Washington can clinch the division with a win over the Eagles on Sunday night. A loss would turn the NFC East race over to the winner of the afternoon Cowboys-Giants tilt.

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Washington QB Alex Smith To Miss Week 15

After suffering two difficult three-point losses in Weeks 9 and 10, the Washington Football Team has rattled off four wins in a row to put itself in first place in the NFC East. However, WFT will not have its starting QB when it hosts the Seahawks in a critical showdown on Sunday.

Alex Smith left the team’s win over the 49ers last week due to a calf strain in his right leg. Since that’s the same leg that was brutally injured several years ago, the sight of Smith walking to the locker room accompanied by training staff immediately set off alarm bells. As Smith explained, the earlier injury resulted in multiple debridements due to an infection, and there are now no nerves in the muscle at the front of his leg. So while the calf strain is technically unrelated, it is complicated by the earlier procedures (Twitter link via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post).

The team had been expressing optimism throughout the week that Smith would be able to play against Seattle, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweeted this afternoon that Smith was unable to do much of anything at practice today. Washington subsequently ruled Smith out for Sunday’s game, with Jay Glazer of FOX Sports adding that the 36-year-old signal-caller just couldn’t get the calf loosened up enough (Twitter link).

That means that second-year passer Dwayne Haskins will get his first start since Week 4. Haskins has fallen out of favor with the organization, which picked him with the No. 15 overall selection of the 2019 draft, but WFT’s playoff hopes may hang on his right arm.

Haskins completed 7 of 12 passes for 51 yards in relief of Smith against San Francisco.

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Washington Hopes To Re-Sign Alex Smith

The Washington Football Team hopes to re-sign Alex Smith, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Head coach Ron Rivera has been impressed with Smith’s play as of late and believes that he can serve as a strong mentor to Washington’s to-be-determined quarterback of the future.

Smith hasn’t indicated whether he wants to play in 2021, but it stands to reason that he will. The veteran chose to return after 17 surgeries and he’s looked fairly sharp in his last two games. After Smith nearly led the WFT to victory over the Lions, he had little trouble in dispatching the Bengals. Between the two games, Smith has completed 55 of 80 throws for 556 yards with one touchdown against one interception.

Smith still has two full years to go on the four-year, $94MM extension he signed with Washington in 2018. Next year, he’s set to make $18.75MM in base pay, a reasonable sum for a quality bridge/mentor QB. Releasing Smith wouldn’t improve their cap situation much anyway — that’d leave a dead money hit of $8.6MM against $14.7MM in savings.

Smith & Co. will face the Cowboys this afternoon in search of win No. 4.

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Surgery For Washington QB Kyle Allen

Washington quarterback Kyle Allen is expected to undergo surgery in the coming weeks on his dislocated/fractured ankle, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). With Allen’s season in flux, Alex Smith is likely poised to serve as the team’s starter for the rest of the year. 

Fortunately, Allen’s injury was not as bad as it first appeared. Smith took over for Allen after he was forced out and played well, up until his late-game interceptions. Of course, Smith can be forgiven if he was a bit rusty. Two years ago, his gruesome leg injury nearly cost him his career and, at one point, the possibility of amputation was floated by doctors.

Smith, 36, made his return this year and moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart when former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins was benched in early October. Days later, Smith took the field against the Rams in relief of Allen. Though his final stat was ugly, coaches were encouraged by his ability to absorb blows from the front seven.

Sunday’s loss to the Giants dropped the Washington Football Team down to 2-6. Even in the woeful NFC East, they’re facing long odds of making the postseason. Still, Smith’s return to the starting lineup will make for compelling television. He’ll be leading the way on Sunday when the WFT travels to Detroit to face the Lions.

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Kyle Allen Likely Done For The Year

Alex Smith is back as Washington’s starting quarterback. Kyle Allen went down with an ankle injury that looked gruesome initially but thankfully turned out to be not quite as serious as it appeared.

Allen has a dislocated ankle with only a small fracture, a source told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). The injury will “likely” sideline him for the rest of the year, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets, although he does have a shot to return. Head coach Ron Rivera confirmed after the game that Smith will be the starter next week, with 2019 first-rounder Dwayne Haskins being bumped up to number two.

Smith lit it up to start the second half and get Washington back into their game against the Giants, but back to back interception on the final two drives sealed their 23-20 loss. Next week against the Lions will be Smith’s first start since his own devastating lower leg injury that he suffered midway through the 2018 season. No matter how he fares moving forward, it’s been a truly remarkable comeback and we’re all rooting for him.

It’s a tough blow for Allen assuming he’s done for the year, as he isn’t likely to get handed a starting opportunity like this again next year. The 2018 UDFA was brought in specifically by Rivera after they spent time together with the Panthers, and he was coming off a great game against the Cowboys when we went down.

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Washington Sticking With Kyle Allen As Starter Despite Alex Smith’s Return

Perhaps the best story of the Week 5 slate was when Alex Smith made his improbable return to the field in relief of an injured Kyle Allen during Washington’s loss to the Rams. Unfortunately for Smith, it looks like he might have to head back to the bench for a bit.

Allen will remain the team’s starter for now if he’s healthy, head coach Ron Rivera said after the game. Allen was cleared by doctors to return on Sunday even though he never did, which would seemingly indicate he’ll be good to go for Week 6. Smith led the team to a field goal right before halftime, but was unable to get anything going in the second half as he was under heavy pressure.

Most importantly it was good to see Smith’s health hold up, especially when he took some big hits from Aaron Donald and co. His final stat line turned out pretty ugly though, as he finished 9/17 for 37 yards while taking six sacks. Despite Washington’s 1-4 start they’re very much in the thick of the abysmal NFC East, especially in the wake of Dak Prescott‘s brutal ankle injury.

Rivera clearly wants to compete for the division, it’s why he benched Dwayne Haskins in the first place, so it’d be somewhat surprising if we don’t see Smith again soon. Allen is a fighter, but his upside isn’t very high and the team’s ceiling is almost certainly higher with a pre-injury Smith if he’s able to return to that form.

Allen was 9/13 for 74 yards with a seven-yard rushing touchdown before a hit from Jalen Ramsey temporarily sidelined him. Washington’s upcoming schedule consists of the Giants, Cowboys, Giants, Lions, Bengals, and Cowboys, so they’ve definitely got some winnable games on the horizon. Meanwhile Haskins has been demoted to third string and is reportedly likely to get traded soon, and with all the drama in this quarterback room it’ll be a very interesting situation to monitor moving forward.

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Washington To Trade Dwayne Haskins?

Although Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins turned in a decent performance against the Ravens last week, head coach Ron Rivera elected to bench the 2019 first-rounder in favor of Kyle Allen. Not only that, Haskins is now the No. 3 QB on the team’s depth chart behind Allen and Alex Smith.

As one might expect, the relationship between Haskins and the WFT coaching staff has turned toxic, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. The staff did not have a hand in drafting the Ohio State product, who was selected by the prior Washington regime, and as the QB3, Haskins will not get much practice time and will be a healthy scratch most weeks.

One of La Canfora’s sources, who has talked with numerous WFT staffers, said, “[w]hat they’ll tell you in that building is that [Haskins] is a project who was drafted by the owner and his son. That’s the bottom line there. Allen is their guy. They think he fits their system. They didn’t really want anything to do with Haskins from the beginning.”

Multiple sources within the organization believe that Haskins will be traded before the November 3 deadline, and those close to the second-year pro have told him that a trade would be the best outcome for him. At this point, it’s hard to argue with that, though it’s unclear who might be interested and what the trade compensation might be.

Because it plays in such a weak division, Washington believes it has a real chance to be a playoff contender this year. As such, Rivera would like to hand the reins to Smith sooner rather than later, as La Canfora details in a separate piece. The fact that Smith is on a football field at all is nothing short of a miracle, but the staff believes that with another couple of weeks of practice, the 36-year-old will be ready to start once again.

Smith has not played since November 18, 2018, the day he suffered the brutal leg injury that nearly cost him his life.

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Washington To Bench Dwayne Haskins

The Washington Football Team is making a quarterback change. Former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins will be benched in favor of Kyle Allen, as Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweet. Furthermore, Haskins will be moved down to No. 3 on the QB depth chart with Alex Smith taking over as the primary backup. 

Washington tried to tailor the offense to Haskins’ strengths this offseason while giving him all of the first-string reps in practice. So far, that hasn’t panned out. After their comeback win over the Eagles to start the season, WFT has gone without a W in the last three games.

Haskins, the No. 15 overall pick of the 2019 draft, has been sacked a ton — the offensive line is partially to blame, though Haskins has not been able to locate his open targets quickly, either. Between his three interceptions and one fumble against the Browns, Haskins is coming off of a four-turnover game, one that may change the trajectory of his NFL career. All in all, Haskins has completed just 56.4% of his passes with four touchdowns against three INTs.

Washington is set to play the Ravens this week, presenting Allen with a tough task. But, after that, they have a fairly soft stretch that includes the Rams, Giants (2x), Cowboys, and Lions. Ron Rivera & Co. believe that Allen can take advantage of that stretch and put them on the right track.

Meanwhile, this marks yet another remarkable milestone for Smith, who suffered a gruesome leg injury in November of 2018.The injury was thought to be a potential career ender, especially after Smith contracted sepsis. Now healthy, the 36-year-old could be on the verge of taking his first snap in years.

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