Taylor Heinicke will start for Washington in the season finale against the Cowboys, as rookie QB Sam Howell may also make his NFL debut…but there will be no room for the deposed Carson Wentz
- Head coach Ron Rivera said the Commanders are ‘playing to win’ on Sunday
- The Commanders are out of postseason contention after last week’s loss
- Rivera said the most difficult part of his tenure was finding a stable No. 1 QB
- Carson Wentz could be released and relegated to a backup job elsewhere next year
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The Washington Commanders are set to name Taylor Heinicke as the team’s starting quarterback in their season finale on Sunday after being eliminated from playoff contention.
Rookie Sam Howell could also make his NFL debut later in the game, with the organization looking to the future. Earlier this week, on Monday, head coach Ron Rivera said the Commanders were ‘playing to win’ after their loss at Cleveland and Green Bay’s win over Minnesota eliminated them from the NFC wild-card race .
The Cowboys are still playing for the division title and will get it with a win and an Eagles loss to the Giants.
Taylor Heinicke, 29, is slated to be the Commanders starting QB against the Cowboys on Sunday
Rookie QB Sam Howell could make his NFL debut after being the team’s third-stringer this year
Avoiding a sixth straight losing season by going 8-8-1 in Rivera’s third season is a motivating factor, but knowing what Howell can do in the pros is arguably the most important part of Week 18 for Washington.
Once projected to be a high first-round draft pick, the former North Carolina star fell to the fifth round spent the season developing behind Heinicke and Carson Wentz.
Rivera said the most difficult part of his three-year tenure was finding a solid No. 1 quarterback. ‘That’s a position we need to consolidate going forward,’ he said.
Wentz doesn’t appear to be the player for that job, Sunday against Dallas or next season. The 30-year-old is proving to be a big mistake for the Commanders, who took a $28million cap hit and traded two third-round picks as well as several second-round picks last spring to sign the Super Bowl LII champion from the Colts.
Carson Wentz was Washington’s starting QB at the start of this season but could now be cut
Wentz threw three interceptions in Washington’s last game — a 24-10 loss to the Browns that contributed to the Commanders’ elimination. He could be released and relegated to a backup job elsewhere next season after again losing consciousness in a crucial late-season game with the playoffs at stake.
The Colts opted to move on from Wentz after he struggled in Indianapolis during the 2021 season. The team missed the postseason, and now Washington finds itself in a similar situation.
Still, Rivera said he doesn’t regret going with Wentz and away from Heinicke against Cleveland.
‘For me, it’s always about winning,’ he said. ‘The decision was made because I thought we needed a little something after the 0-2-1 games.’