Late in the Washington Football Team’s 30-29 triumph over the New York Giants on Thursday, quarterback Taylor Heinicke did not enter the huddle and make a grand pronouncement. He didn’t even crack a joke to lighten the atmosphere. He’d been in these situations before joining the NFL, usually in college or during practises, and he knew what needed to be done. Even if it was the first time he had done it at this level.
Taylor Heinicke’s calm demeanour is reminiscent of Russell Wilson of Seattle
In the final five minutes, Heinicke led two touchdown drives, crossing “game-winning drive” off his never-done-in-the-NFL list. And, while quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is out with a hip injury, Heinicke will have to keep accomplishing things he’s never done before in the NFL if Washington wants to compete in the NFC East. Heinicke did the most important thing in a game he nearly threw away with a late interception: he kept calm. It’s a huge reason why Washington is 1-1 entering Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills on the road. Washington’s defence, which finished second in the league last season, has not performed as well as expected, so Heinicke has had to step up in big times. Heinicke’s poise reminded running back J.D. McKissic of [Seattle Seahawks quarterback] Russell Wilson, according to McKissic, who spent three years in Seattle. “He was cool and collected, ready to make a move. He was willing to go to any length.
He was just concerned with one thing: winning.” Heinicke has already played 11 quarters for Washington, but it was the first time he had to lead a two-minute drive with a chance to win a game on Thursday. Last season, Heinicke had a chance to lead a game-tying drive against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 31-23 playoff loss, but it ended with a fourth-down incompletion from his own 40-yard line at the two-minute warning. But it wasn’t only the final drive on Thursday that made the difference. He led a touchdown drive with all seven throws for 66 yards in the closing 4 minutes, 5 seconds of the first half. He was 7-of-10 for 102 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in the last 4:50 of the game. This included positioning Washington for the game-winning field goal. Terry McLaurin, a wide receiver, described him as “very cool and direct.” “When Taylor is in the huddle, no one will be confused about anything, from the protection to the snap counts to the receivers’ routes. He does an excellent job at speaking clearly and putting us in a wonderful position to succeed.”
“Be ready; be available,” Heinicke would advise the receivers as they left the huddle. In 2020, Heinicke was a backup for the XFL’s St. Louis BattleHawks, but his coach, Jonathan Hayes, told ESPN last winter that he excelled at running two-minute drills in practise. He would also question other players about their duties, attempting to match their preparation to his. In December, former Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder told ESPN, “I coached quarterbacks 32 years; I’ve only had one five-read guy, and that was Taylor.” “Because of his ability to execute one or two pre-snap reads and then get into the play, he could go one through five in 2.6 seconds.” At Old Dominion, where he ran a hurry-up spread offence, Heinicke was a part of 12 comeback victories. Heinicke explained, “That’s essentially what a two-minute is, and I did that for four years, so I’m extremely comfortable with it.” “Defense is on their heels, and they’re getting a little tired. They start playing basic defences, which we’ve been practising every day, so it was wonderful for us for it to come to reality and for us to achieve that aim in a game.”
Heinicke’s poise has improved since he coached him in Carolina, according to Washington coach Ron Rivera, who cut him before the 2019 season. Rivera remarked, “I really enjoy how he’s evolved and grown into the role.” “You can see the swagger and there’s a lot of confidence.” Rivera loved how Heinicke audibled to a run based on New York’s front and McKissic scored on a 2-yard run at the end of the first half. Heinicke glanced at tight end Logan Thomas down the right seam on the go-ahead touchdown ball to Ricky Seals-Jones, then back to the left for McLaurin on a post route. He had a gap he could have taken advantage of, but instead chose to remain cool. He observed the 6-foot-5 Seals-Jones sprinting to the end zone’s right corner. Heinicke saw that he had a height advantage against 5-11 CB Adoree’ Jackson, so he took a chance on Seals-Jones.
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