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When Ryan Fitzpatrick went down in the second quarter of Washington’s Week 1 game against the Los Angeles Chargers, it opened the door for playoff hero Taylor Heinicke to audition at quarterback for the Commanders.
Heinicke had some good moments, such as his performances in wins over the Giants and Falcons early in the season. There were lows, too, such as a tendency to force the ball into coverage when things break down around him.
Heinicke also played well during Washington’s four-game winning streak midway through the season to get the Commanders back into playoff contention. However, it was short-lived, and while Heinicke proved he belonged in the NFL, it was also evident Washington would continue its desperate search for a quarterback.
But Heinicke did provide Washington fans with some exciting moments in an otherwise disappointing 2021 season. In the aforementioned win over the Giants in Week 2, Heinicke’s fourth-quarter performance led the Commanders to their first win.
In particular, his touchdown pass to tight end Ricky Seals-Jones with 4:33 remaining was one of the season’s highlights for Washington. In its 2021 season review, NFL’s Next Gen Stats ranked the pass as one of the most improbable completions of the season, specifically ranking the throw No. 13 with a completion probability of just 13.7%.
Taylor Heinicke & Ricky Seals-Jones (19-yard TD)
Heinicke's touchdown pass to Seals-Jones was the most improbable completion by a Washington quarterback since Week 9, 2018.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 17, 2021
As spectacular as that play was, Next Gen Stats had another of Heinicke’s completions ranking even higher. His touchdown pass to Cam Sims against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14 ranked No. 6.
CAM SIMS JUST MOSSED TREVON DIGGS 😳pic.twitter.com/YPgVet13TE
— PFF (@PFF) December 12, 2021
So, while it’s fair to say Washington needs a new quarterback, it’s also reasonable to say Heinicke did do some good things in 2021.