Taylor Heinicke and the True Tale of Two Tremendous Journeymen

Going in to the 2021 NFL season, other than lack of having a name, the Washington Football Team fan base was super optimistic. Coming out of a 2020 playoff appearance after having earned the title of NFC East Champions, there were high hopes for another successful season. Strong veteran coaching from Ron Rivera, a top defense in the league with an elite defensive line, a proficient offensive line and standout weapons in Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin. I was extremely thrilled for Ryan Fitzpatrick when it was announced the WFT had acquired him to be the starting QB. Finally the job would be solely his, with an amazing supporting cast. Fitzpatrick was 5th in QBR heading into week 6, only behind Rodgers, Mahomes, Allen and Tannehill. He felt like this was his team as he was having a career high 70% completion rate at the time. Then on top of that, when Tua sucked for three quarters, they asked Fitz to go into the game to try to save the team. Arguably the greatest journeyman of all-time, an intelligent Harvard grad, that was a gunslinger not afraid to lower the shoulder on 3rd down. Should make for a fun year for the WFT right? Week 1 disastrous hip injury. In comes … Taylor Heinicke?

Completed 36 passes at 74 % completion percentage, for 336 yards and 2 touchdowns in the air, leading the WFT to a total of 30 points on offense against a very respectable New York Giants defense, was none other than Taylor Heinicke. When Fitzpatrick went down, there was panic and shouts to bring in Cam Newton. And just like a movie, Heinicke swooped in and won the hearts of the DC fan base. Standing at 6’1, 210 lbs, with good mobility and athleticism, Heinicke is not afraid to let it rip. So who is he and where did he come from?

Taylor Heinicke grew up in Georgia where as a senior in high school he was named player of the year in the state of Georgia. He then got a scholarship at Old Dominion where he would go on to be arguably the greatest QB that they ever had. In 2011 as a freshman he was named National Freshman Performer of the year, where he threw for 25 TDs, ran for 4 and only had 1 INT. His sophomore year he went 11-2 and set an FCS record for throwing for 5,076 yards, 44 TDs, 14 INTs, with 470 yards on the ground and 11 TDs. In a game that year against New Hampshire he threw for a division 1 record 730 yards and 5 TDs. His Junior and Senior year were wishy washy as Old Dominion was transferring conferences.

In 2015, He was signed by the Vikings after being undrafted. He stayed around for a few seasons as the 3rd stringer, then in 2017 the Patriots signed him and cut him. He was then signed and cut again by the Texans, and then signed and cut again by the Panthers. Fall 2020 he was a backup QB in the XFL. Under the impression that his football career may have reached the last stop, he spent the Summer and Fall finishing his engineering degree at Old Dominion. Then in December of 2020 the Washington Football Team signed him and he started the NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Tampa Bay Bucs. He blew away expectations and nearly beat the team that went on to win the Super Bowl. He threw for 306 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and a highlight TD run. This allowed him to be able to maintain his spot as the backup at worst. Like FitzMagic, he is beginning to show that he also has some tricks up his sleeve and has the potential to become a successful journeymen himself. He takes the WFT into Buffalo this weekend as an 8 point dog but don’t be surprised if Washington wins.


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