After saying he “thought about” pulling starting quarterback Alex Smith in Washington’s must-win game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17, the Football Team head coach Ron Rivera has indicated to the media that he is considering a two-quarterback approach against the Bucs in the wild card round of the playoffs on Saturday night.
“Honestly, the thing we have to be willing to do and we have to really think about is whether or not to rotate him (Smith) in and out with Taylor (Heinicke),” Rivera said on Tuesday. “We have to definitely look at that. There’s nothing you can do about it, that’s the truth of the matter. We’re gonna play a very aggressive defense this week, and obviously it’s something we most certainly have to look at.”
Smith is 5-1 as a starter this season for Washington, completing 67% of his passes for six touchdowns and eight interceptions while being sacked 22 times. Heinicke stepped into one game this season, performing admirably in relief of Dwayne Haskins against the Carolina Panthers by completing 12-19 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown, while rushing three times for 22 yards.
The Old Dominion product has been in the league since 2015, but has thrown just 77 career passes and started one game. Heinicke lost that game with Carolina in 2018, throwing for 274 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in a 24-10 loss to the Falcons.
Heinicke is a good athlete with superior mobility right now to the banged-up Smith, who has been battling a calf injury since Week 14. That could be one reason why Rivera is considering using the less-experienced quarterback, as he undoubtedly expects Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to bring the heat on Saturday night. Washington has already lost quarterback Kyle Allen to a season-ending injury and released quarterback Dwayne Haskins, so their options are limited at the game’s most important position.
Smith did not participate in Tuesday’s practice due to his calf injury.