Football Team

Rivera non-committal who WFT's QB1 will be if Smith can't play

Football Team

After a drama-filled week, Dwayne Haskins got the start at quarterback for the Washington Football Team, only to be benched in the fourth quarter for Taylor Heinicke in the team's 20-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Washington can still win the NFC East with a win over Philadelphia next week, but that will become a lot harder of a task if starting quarterback Alex Smith can't play once again due to his lingering calf injury. 

Following the loss, Washington head coach Ron Rivera was non-committal who the team's starting quarterback would be moving forward if Smith isn't able to go.

"We'll have to see," Rivera said. "We'll have to see how Alex is doing, and we'll have to go from there."

Smith hasn't played since the first half of Washington's Week 14 win over San Francisco. Smith was a full participant in practice on Friday, giving off some optimism that he'd be able to return this week, but ultimately was not healthy enough to play Sunday.

"Friday, he had a good day. He looked pretty good," Rivera said. "But unfortunately Saturday morning, he wasn't feeling it. We were kind of hoping [he would play], but unfortunately, it didn't work out."

Haskins started the last two games, but the same struggles he had earlier this season were just as prevalent over the past few weeks. After a three-turnover first half against Carolina, and a turnover on downs in the third quarter, Rivera had seen enough from Haskins.

The head coach turned to Heinicke, a quarterback who hadn't played since 2018 and arrived in Washington just a few weeks ago.

 

"I wanted to see what Taylor could do," Rivera said. "We're still in this, obviously, and next week is very important. We'll see what happens."

In limited action, Heinicke was the better option. The veteran finished the game 12-of-19 for 137 yards and a touchdown. For comparison, Haskins finished 14-of-28 for 154 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and a fumble.

But come next Sunday, it's clear Rivera hopes neither Haskins nor Heinicke is his starting quarterback.