The headlines will blare (elsewhere) that Tayler Heinicke will continue to start for the Washington Commanders even after Carson Wentz has been cleared.
That, of course, suggests Heinicke has taken the quarterback job from Wentz — which is believable because the Commanders are 3-1 with Heinicke starting while Wentz recovered from finger surgery.
Oh, and the Commanders beat the previously undefeated Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night.
But that’s not the whole truth. Heinicke is the quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans. That’s as far as coach Ron Rivera went Wednesday.
And that’s perfectly fine with Heinicke.
It’s also fine with this space because if Washington wins, the ride home might resemble the one Monday. In that one Heinicke and teammates borrowed a page from the Kirk Cousins chain-wearing plane ride home the previous week.
Taylor Heinicke Joins The Chain Gang
“Honestly, I was just hanging out in my seat, enjoying the win, and next thing you know a lot of the guys start throwing their chains on me, so I wasn’t gonna stop them,” Heinicke said. “But, no, it was fun. We just had a big win. We’re trying to enjoy it on the plane and having all those chains, I didn’t notice how heavy those things were but yeah, it was a good time with the guys.”
Fun stuff but Heinicke missed a potential marketing gold mine by not drinking a Heineken.
Heinicke has thrown 5 TDs and 4 interceptions in his fours starts. But there have been suggestions from inside the team and in the media for keeping him the starter the rest of the season.
That, according to Heinicke, is not his concern.
“I mean, like you said, I don’t really think too much about it,” Heinicke said. “There’s a lot of things that fans or critics or whatever say that, they don’t know what’s going on in the facility. They don’t know what the play call was. They don’t know what we’re looking for on that certain play.
“For me, again, it’s one day at a time and it’s one of those things where it’s like, I’ve said this plenty times before, I was not playing ball two years ago and so when I have the opportunity just to be on a team I’m grateful for and then have the opportunity to play, I just go out there and leave it all on the field and try and have fun with it.
“Because again, you never know when it’s your last play. That’s how I just go about it every time.”
The Tyler Heinicke experience has been a fun ride. But he understands it could come to a screeching halt if the Commanders lose to the 1-7 Texans on Sunday.
“Obviously, we had a huge game against the divisional opponent, undefeated, big win,” Heinicke said. “The worst thing that we can do is go and lay an egg on Sunday.”
Matt Ryan Was Understandably Peeved About Benching
The Colts changed head coaches from Frank Reich to Jeff Saturday last week. And his second day on the job the new coach talked to veteran quarterback Matt Ryan about starting for him.
Ryan, benched for several weeks, returned to his starting job and beat the Las Vegas Raiders.
No, not so simple.
Before Ryan could beat the Raiders he had to overcome some pent up anger and negative emotions about being benched. His bruised ego had to heal.
“Yeah, I think we constantly as competitors, we all believe we’re the best, right?” Ryan told reporters Wednesday. “That’s just how you think. When you’re told, we feel like someone else can do a better job for us, that part is hard. That’s natural.
“Again, I think back to where I’m at in my career and I think it fires you up just as much, but I think I know how to handle it better. I think I’m definitely more mature than I would’ve been at 27, 28, 30.”
During the two weeks Sam Ehlinger started, Ryan has to find a release for his feelings. Because he was outwardly a professional about the situation but inwardly he was seething.
“Yeah, there’s definitely people I vented to,” Ryan said. “I think of my wife during this entire time. I mean, she’s unbelievable in how she kind of has a read for what I need and she’s incredibly supportive. But she hears probably some of the things you’d like to hear.
“But I keep them there. Again, you have family around you that you kind of support and friends and guys that I’ve developed really good relationships along the way that can kind of help you through those things.”
Cardinals In Whatever Happens Mode?
The season was supposed to be about high achievement and building on last year’s playoff berth for the Arizona Cardinals. It definitely hasn’t been that so far.
The Cards are 4-6 and just treading water in the NFC West. And Kyler Murray missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury that may not heal by Monday night’s Mexico City game against the 49ers.
So things are looking a bit dire.
Which actually seemed to be liberating last week, if you ask Murray. At least for coach Kliff Kingsburgh, who calls the offensive plays.
“The only difference I would notice was the week of we had nothing to lose,” Murray said of the play calls in a 27-17 win over the Los Angeles Rams. “Not being uptight about anything. Letting it ride and calling whatever it is. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
Sounds like Kingsbury is in throw caution to the wind mode.
“I think he did a great job of just calling the game,” Murray said.
Murray added the vibe around the team is good despite their record.
“Positive,” Murray described it. “That’s the one thing is just staying alive and staying in the fight. It’s not over. Obviously, the season has not gone the way we’ve wanted, but we’re still in it. The season’s not over.
“We know this team’s talented enough to go on the run that we feel like we can go on. That’s the mission and that’s the mentality right now.”