Washington Football Team has cycled through quarterbacks in 2020, starting Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen at different points throughout the season. The cycle will continue on Saturday night when the club is set to call upon backup Taylor Heinicke to replace Smith, who's still recovering from a late-season calf injury. Smith will be inactive and former UDFA Steve Montez will backup Heinicke. Everything is on the line against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; it's win or go home in the final game of Saturday's wild-card slate, and Washington's fate will be in Heinicke's hands.
So who in the world is this guy? You came to the right place. Here's a quick look at the QB's journey:
Just joined Washington a month ago
That's right. Heinicke didn't arrive until Dec. 8, when he signed to Washington's practice squad amid Haskins' downfall as a starter. He didn't join the team's active roster until even later, Dec. 19. He made his on-field debut in Week 16, replacing Haskins in a one-score loss to the Panthers. If there's any plus side to this, it's that the Bucs have almost no film on Heinicke in Washington's offense.
Productive in his only appearance
Heinicke only played part of a quarter in relief of Haskins, but Washington actually moved the ball with him at the helm. In two series with him under center, WFT gained 160 yards, moved the chains 10 times, and scored its only TD of the Panthers game. He would've thrown a separate TD on the first drive if not for a negating holding call. It's a mall sample size, but it's something!
Postponed college exams to return to NFL
This guy dropped everything to get back in the game, including the chance to wrap up his engineering degree at Old Dominion. In fact, he was literally about to take final exams when Washington came calling for emergency help in December. A few emails to professors apparently sealed the deal, letting him postpone his post-football dreams until after 2020 -- and now an improbable playoff run.
Has a history with OC Scott Turner
Like Kyle Allen, who's been sidelined for a while with his own injury, Heinicke is familiar with WFT's offensive coordinator. The two spent 2018 together with the Panthers when Heinicke made the only other start of his NFL career filling in for Cam Newton. His numbers in that start, before an elbow injury ended his day: 33-of-53 for 274 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
Has played for four other teams, including in the AAF
Heinicke began his NFL career as an undrafted rookie with the Vikings, serving as Minnesota's No. 3 QB in 2015-2016. He spent the following year as a late-season emergency backup for the Texans, who had lost Deshaun Watson, Tom Savage and T.J. Yates to injury. In between his one-year Panthers stint and WFT arrival, he served as a backup for the AAF's St. Louis BattleHawks.