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It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke. After a strong start to the season where he led Washington to a pair of come-from-behind wins in the fourth quarter, Heinicke has struggled in losses to the Saints and Chiefs over the last two weeks.
In Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs, Heinicke didn’t put the football in jeopardy. He had one interception late on a batted ball when the game was out of reach, but for the most part, he played it safe.
That’s not Heinicke’s style.
Head coach Ron Rivera said earlier this season he wanted to see Heinicke be more of a “game manager” while still allowing him to do the things he does best.
Since that time, it appears offensive coordinator Scott Turner has reined in Heinicke’s playmaking a bit, which has resulted in a less effective version of the quarterback.
The approach has led to Heinicke trying to avoid mistakes instead of just playing the game.
Heinicke spoke to the media after Wednesday’s practice about trying “not to be perfect.”
“I feel like I’ve just been trying to be perfect and trying to make the perfect read every play,” Heinicke said, per Ethan Cadeaux of NBC Sports Washington. “It doesn’t really allow me to be who I am or allowed me to be my best.”
How can he turn around his fortunes beginning this week against the Green Bay Packers?
Just try not to be perfect. If that first read is there, take it no matter what the coverage is. If not, let’s just keep going. Maybe make a play and be smart about it. I think the biggest thing is don’t be perfect, don’t overthink, just play football like you’ve done your whole life.
As with anything, it requires the proper balance. Heinicke will not succeed in dropping back 40 times per game, dumping the ball off near the line of scrimmage, and not scrambling. Those are his strengths. While he may not be blessed with a rocket arm, he is a playmaker.
This isn’t about determining if Heinicke is Washington’s quarterback of the future or not. That can wait until the offseason. Washington needs to worry about turning its season around and allowing Heinicke to play without overthinking.
Heinicke’s style will lead to turnovers, but Washington’s offense needs to be aggressive. That’s Heinicke’s game and Washington’s only chance at success right now.