Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Scott Turner is a big Taylor Heinicke fan. He was in Minnesota when the Vikings signed Heinicke as an undrafted free agent out of Old Dominion in 2015.
Turner was also the coach who brought Heinicke to Carolina in 2018 and to Washington in 2020. Heinicke has often mentioned this coaching staff was the only one that believed in him.
Heinicke has started 21 NFL games, and he has a record of 11-10, including 4-1 this season. All but one of those starts have come in a Washington uniform. Last week, head coach Ron Rivera said the Commanders will stick with Heinicke for the remainder of the season.
While Heinicke has been far from perfect since taking the reins in Week 7, he’s minimized mistakes [he’s been good for an average of one per game], put the ball in the hands of his playmakers and used his mobility to help cover for some of Washington’s offensive line issues.
So what does Turner want to see from Heinicke for the remainder of this season?
“I just think he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing,” Turner said Friday. “We have some plays where he missed some throws, or we’ve had some negative plays obviously that have come up. Just eliminate those, but just keep playing his game. He doesn’t have to do anything special or different. Bring the energy that he brings and play smart football.”
Keep playing the same and bringing the energy. Those are the keys. Remember in 2021, when Washington tried to box Heinicke in the pocket, and he struggled? The goal was for him to take fewer shots. That worked, but it made Heinicke less effective. Heinicke is at his best when he can move around and use his legs to make plays.
As far as the energy, Heinicke’s teammates love him. It’s not that they don’t like Wentz — they do — but there is a different vibe with Heinicke. Perhaps it’s that underdog in him that resonates so well with his teammates.
The Commanders host the Atlanta Falcons Sunday in another important battle for NFC playoff positioning. Heinicke looks to improve to 5-1 as Washington’s starting quarterback this season.