Turner Needs to Adjust to Heinicke's Strengths | Washington Football
Updated: May 5
By Adam Aniba
The 20-20 tie to the New York Giants left a bitter taste in the mouths of many fans and they voiced their displeasure with the overtime rule on social media.
Prior to the matchup, Taylor Heinicke admitted that he needed to make more plays with his feet. Although he threw for 275 yards and 2 TDs in New York, his 6.7 yard per pass average is indicative of his limitations against a strong/aggressive pass rush. He had multiple occasions against the Giants to pick up yards with his feet, but decided against it.
Granted, Washington's o-line allowed 5 sacks with Heinicke getting little time in the pocket to read the field, but continuing to have him drop back is a misuse of his ability as a runner. In '21 Heinicke rushed for 313 yards on 60 rush attempts with an impressive 5.2 yards per rush average.
In contrast, this season (7 starts) Heinicke has scrambled 23 times for 67 yards with a 2.9 per rush average. Sacks certainly have skewed his yards per rush average, but nonetheless OC Scott Turner continues to put Heinicke in difficult situations.
Heinicke has Five 4th qtr comebacks in 22 regular season starts, but his ability to make something out of nothing is what has keeps him relevant. It's understandable that Turner is attempting to create favorable matchups, by dropping Heinicke back in an effort to read the field and utilize their plethora of receiving weapons. The truth of the matter is Heinicke simply doesn't have the time in the pocket or the arm talent to consistently make plays downfield.
Pass protection is a liability with the current group Washington lineman as well. The center, right guard and right tackle position have been a revolving door, which has led to very little continuity between Heincke and his lineman.
Heinicke has made a career out of creating splash plays, especially when going off script and using his ability to avoid pressure with his legs.
With 1:51 remaining vs the Giants in the 4th quarter down 20-13, Heinicke marched the team downfield ending the drive with 28-yard TD pass to Jahan Dotson.
The drive began at their own 10-yard line with 3:43 remaining in the game. It was a 6-yard pass, but a 22 yard catch and run by Dotson with a timely spin move, evading the defender on his away to the endzone.
Heinicke was sacked 5 times and absorbed 10 QB hits (no sacks in prev 2 games) vs the Giants. The offense went 3 of 14 on 3rd downs with a 6.71 per pass attempt average on the day.
The offensive line breakdowns, most notably in passing situations will continue to be an issue down the stretch. With a rematch vs the Giants and games against San Fran, Cleveland and Dallas the path to the playoffs won't be easy.
Utilizing consistent RPO/Zone Read concepts and getting Heinicke out in space gives this offense the best opportunity for success.
WIth Washington looking to regroup during their bye week, the 12/18 rematch vs New York has now been flexed to Sunday Night on the national stage.
Heinicke's comments regarding scrambling more, should resonate with Turner and hopefully push him to change it up down the stretch in an effort to seize a wildcard berth.