Taylor Heinicke’s first impression as a quarterback for the Washington Football Team was one that stood out for his play-making ability. The 28-year-old earned himself a place in D.C. lore with a pylon-diving, dime-dropping performance in the first round of the playoffs last season.
On Sunday, however, Heinicke looked like a much more reserved version of himself. Facing the Kansas City Chiefs, Heinicke threw for just 182 yards with one touchdown and an interception. His 4.7 yards per attempt were the fewest he’s compiled in any start thus far in his NFL career. Heinicke also failed to register a single rushing attempt, another first for the 28-year-old.
“He got a little cautious,” head coach Ron Rivera told NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay on Monday. “Some of [the Chiefs’] players are real smart, savvy ballhawks and some of that got into his mind a little bit as he was going through his progressions as opposed to just pulling the trigger and doing what he does natural. So I think he got a little cautious, I really do. Trying to be too perfect, not make mistakes.
“In a game like that where you have a team like that on the ropes, if you take a chance and make something big happen, that’s gonna create a lot of momentum. It’s one of those things that Taylor will learn because there are a lot of things that happened in that game that were new to him, might have been first-time experiences as a starting quarterback.”
Washington entered halftime with a 13-10 lead, but the Chiefs’ defense shut the team out in the second half en route to a 31-13 victory. Heinicke, who threw two interceptions against the New Orleans Saints the week prior, often checked the ball down rather than take shots downfield. Despite the Chiefs entering the game having allowed the second-most passing yards in the NFL, Heinicke didn’t complete a pass for more than 12 yards the entire second half.
Rivera has no plans to bench Heinicke for third-string quarterback Kyle Allen just yet, but he wants to see the ODU product tap back into the style of play that caught the league’s attention last year.