In his final weekly press conference of the season, Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner made reference to the scientific method.
You remember the scientific method, right? It's that process every young student has gone through before, where they come up with a hypothesis, test the hypothesis and then draw conclusions about that hypothesis.
Hang on. This is going somewhere. Promise.
The exchange occurred on Thursday when Turner was asked if Taylor Heinicke's performance as the team's starter had changed his opinion of the quarterback. That's when Turner threw it back to the days of grade school.
"I wouldn't say it revealed anything, maybe it just kind of confirmed," he said. "You know, the scientific method, you form a hypothesis.
"In my head, I had an idea of what it was going to be like or how he would respond to certain things. I think, for the most part, he confirmed that."
Turner has long supported Heinicke, dating back to when he was the only NFL coach to attend Heinicke's pro day at Old Dominion. That support, plus three different overlaps with Heinicke for three different franchises, has created a deep understanding for Turner of what the passer brings to the field.
Due to Ryan Fitzpatrick's opening-day injury in September, others have since gotten the chance to see in Heinicke what Turner's always seen. And while Turner admitted Thursday that the 28-year-old has experienced an "up-and-down" campaign — a statement that can't be debated — Heinicke has delivered in a few areas that the coordinator confidently expected him to.
"Whatever people wanna say about him, I think no one can deny his toughness, his fight," Turner told reporters. "The players on the team, they love him, they respect him. All those guys play hard and play hard for him and battle for him. Those are the kind of things that I felt like we would see."
Heinicke's production in Fitzpatrick's place has proven that he undeniably deserves a spot in the sport, which is a significant achievement for a signal caller who wasn't getting many signals that his services were needed until Washington called him about 13 months ago.
"I've wanted to start in this league since I was born," Heinicke said Wednesday. "This season's been a dream come true."
However, as Heinicke established himself, he also displayed the weaknesses that will likely continue to cap his overall potential. Therefore, Washington will once more seek to acquire a true difference-making quarterback this offseason.
"We're gonna try to get it as good as we can at every position, but especially at that position," Turner explained.
That doesn't mean Heinicke is no longer valuable, of course. Like many other organizations did during this pandemic-influenced schedule, Washington learned the importance of rostering multiple capable QBs.
Fortunately for the club, Heinicke is under contract for 2022 at a very affordable rate.
So, no matter who Ron Rivera and Turner are able to land — whether it's a stud veteran, a mid-tier stopgap, a tantalizing rookie or even a combination of those options — Heinicke figures to be leaned on in some respect next fall.
That's just what Turner wants, too.
"Taylor's definitely going to be a factor," he said. "If we do bring a guy in, if that happens and however that happens, Taylor's gonna be here. I know what his makeup is. I know he's gonna be ready to compete and he isn’t gonna give anybody anything."
As Turner again prepares for the mad science that is the hunt for a star quarterback, at least he has one person whom he feels like he can rely on in Heinicke.