Taylor Heinicke has been the starting quarterback of the Washington Football Team for just over three weeks, but the 28-year-old has already earned plenty of respect and praise from several of his teammates.
On Tuesday, Washington running back J.D. McKissic participated in an ask-me-anything session with Bleacher Report when he was asked by one fan about his quarterback. The question, more specifically, was "when did you know Taylor Heinicke was a dog?"
McKissic, unprompted, began his answer by comparing No. 4 to his former star quarterback when he played in Seattle.
"You're talking about 'Baby Russell Wilson?'" McKissic said.
That's extremely high praise from the running back, as Wilson has been one of the NFL's best quarterbacks for nearly a decade. The Seahawks star is an eight-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl champion and will likely have over 300 career passing touchdowns by the end of this season. When Wilson eventually calls it a career, a bust in Canton will be ready for him five years later.
However, the comparison should not be taken lightly, considering that McKissic has seen first-hand what Wilson is capable of. The running back spent the first three years of his career in Seattle from 2016-18, a stretch where Wilson threw for 90 touchdowns to just 29 interceptions.
As for why Heinicke reminds McKissic of Wilson, the running back cited both quarterbacks' determination to put everything on the line in order to win.
"He's just a baller. That's how he reminds of Russell Wilson so much: he'd do anything. He'd do anything to win the game, regardless of what the score is," McKissic said.
One doesn't have to travel far back in time to find a specific example of Heinicke proving such, either. This past Sunday, the quarterback led Washington on a game-winning drive over the Falcons. Ironically, it was McKissic on the receiving end of the winning touchdown.
McKissic was Heinicke's fifth option on the play, the quarterback said after the game. But when none of the QB's initial reads were open, Heinicke scrambled and evaded multiple defenders before finding McKissic on the other side of the field. After that, the running back did the rest.
Another aspect where Heinicke reminds McKissic of Wilson is the quarterback's confidence every time he steps in the huddle.
"When he first got to the team, you could just see his confidence," McKissic said. "You could feel his key, his energy. I came up to him and introduced myself. I think [offensive coordinator Scott] Turner told me he had a 700- 800-[yard] passing game. I was like 'ok.' It was his time to play. He came into the game and was just so relaxed."
Heinicke and Wilson are each among the smaller quarterbacks in the league, but both have proven that they're willing to put their bodies on the line, too. While their playing styles do have some drastic differences, there are plenty of similarities between the two.
McKissic is far from the only one who's praised Heinicke for his efforts since taking over as the team's starter. On Sunday, star wideout Terry McLaurin also raved about his signal-caller following an impressive outing from both players.
"Even when he's scrambling around, [Heinicke's] eyes stay downfield," McLaurin said postgame following Washington's Week 4 win. "He knows that he could give us opportunities to make plays down the field as well. Can't say enough about him, the way he extends plays, the way he gives us a chance on each and every play. It's like, no play's ever dead when Taylor's back there."
With Ryan Fitzpatrick expected to be sidelined for the next few weeks at minimum, it's Heinicke's job -- for now. And if he continues to play the way he has, Ron Rivera and his staff will have a hard time putting the 28-year-old back on the bench.