Taylor Heinicke’s short leash has been cut.
Carson Wentz will take over as starting quarterback for Sunday’s crucial game against the Browns, ESPN.com reported on Wednesday. The 7-7-1 Commanders sit seventh and last in the NFC playoffs, half a game ahead of the Seahawks, Lions and Packers.
Heinicke took over when Wentz broke his finger in a Week 6 win over the Bears that improved Washington’s record to 2-4. Heinicke led the Commanders on a 6-1-1 streak that put them in the middle of the NFC playoff picture.
However, back-to-back lackluster performances in losses to the Giants and 49ers prompted the decision.
“Well, I just want to make sure I have a chance to talk to everyone before I make a decision,” Ron Rivera said earlier in the week of his quarterback thought process. “I want to make sure I get all the thoughts, ideas and concepts. Again, ultimately the decision will be made based on what I think is best for us going forward, gives us the best opportunity right now. That’s what it’s really about.
Wentz replaced Heinicke in San Francisco on Saturday, completing 12 of 16 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown in the 37-20 loss.
“I thought Taylor had done some really good things. There were opportunities, I think, that we could have taken advantage of as well,” Rivera said. “I thought Carson was coming in and hadn’t played in a while; it was a little rusty at first. And then it started to sharpen. He has shown that he makes quick decisions. So that was good to see. It was. There are still things he can continue to work on and improve as well.
Wentz, 29, has more natural ability than Heinicke, also 29, however the team rallied around the journeyman in their mid-season run. Now that the season is on the line, Rivera returns to the former No. 2 pick to push the Commanders into the playoffs.
After the game against the Browns, the Commanders end the regular season against the Cowboys. Both games are in Washington.