When Ryan Fitzpatrick was signed to the Washington Football Team, many assumed he would be the unchallenged starter. However, head coach Ron Rivera had different plans.
Both quarterbacks are battling for the starting position, and the team is uncommitted to declaring a winner until they are well and ready. Here are five things to expect from the battle between the two quarterbacks before all is said and done:
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Taylor Heinicke
#1 Not a real quarterback battle
The competition’s main goal was to light a fire under Fitzpatrick. The goal was not to go into this with a clean slate and evaluate both quarterbacks from scratch. The goal was to create a reason to get both quarterbacks and the entire team to focus up or risk being replaced. The team wanted to show that there are no guarantees if there is going to be slacking, even at the quarterback position.
#2 Fitzpatrick is likely to start
The Washington Football Team did not just pay Ryan Fitzpatrick $10 million (according to Spotrac) to backup Taylor Heinicke. If they were that unsure about Fitzpatrick being a fit, they would have drafted a quarterback. They skipped out on the opportunity, so they are all-in on Fitzpatrick. When the sun rises on the first Sunday of the season, Fitzpatrick should be the starter.
#3 Stakes for replacement
While Fitzpatrick is practically guaranteed to start, the competition is more about setting the line for when Heinicke will be able to replace Fitzpatrick if he struggles. If Heinicke is determined to be solid in the preseason, the odds of yanking Fitzpatrick go up. If Heinicke is determined to be a clear step below Fitzpatrick, the latter will have a longer leash.
#4 Heinicke is playing for 2023
Taylor Heinicke will be playing as hard as he can, but his eyes will be on 2023. That’s because, in 2023, Heinicke will be a free agent. If he can play well in the preseason, his next contract could be a raise, albeit one limited by the backup market. Heinicke knows the deck is stacked against him in this competition, but he could still get something out of it.
#5 Neither quarterback may explode in the preseason
Now, through two preseason games, neither quarterback has put in an explosive performance. Both quarterbacks’ offenses have been stagnant, eventually putting up 17 and 13 points respectively in their first two games. Fitzpatrick and Heinicke both performed about the same way in preseason games. They didn’t put up any highlight plays, but also did not make any terrible mistakes.
If this is what both quarterbacks will be, the Washington Football Team could be watchable in 2021, assuming their defense remains as dominant as it was in 2020. In 2020, they were the second-best ranked team in the NFL.
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