It’s officially Taylor Heinicke time in the nation’s capital. That is, at least for the Washington Football Team’s upcoming Thursday night matchup vs. the New York Giants.
Heinicke, WFT’s hero of the 2020 NFC Wild Card Game, will start for just the third time in his career in Week 2 after Ryan Fitzpatrick went down with a hip injury that’ll sideline him for an expected 6-8 weeks.
While there have been questions as to whether Ron Rivera might consider bringing in his former quarterback Cam Newton this season, Washington’s head coach has repeatedly shot down the thought. But Rivera's former player in both Washington and Carolina, and Newton's old teammate, Thomas Davis, thinks the coach might change directions depending on Heinicke’s performance Thursday.
“If [Heinicke] comes out against the Giants on Thursday Night Football and he don’t play well—and it’s not looking good—Coach Rivera is going to go and really look hard at bringing Cam Newton in. He knows Cam very well, and like I said, he talked about [signing him] last year before the Patriots picked Cam up,” Davis said on a recent episode of NFL Network's Good Morning Football.
Davis played linebacker for the Burgundy & Gold during their NFC East title run last season, but he also spent 14 years in Carolina. The 2018 Panthers, under the tutelage of Rivera, featured Davis, Newton, Heinicke and WFT backup Kyle Allen.
Newton won an MVP under Rivera in 2015, but the last 18 months of his career haven’t been as kind. He battled injuries in his last couple seasons in Carolina before being released, and had a less-than-stellar one-year stint in New England where he threw for 2,657 yards (a career-low outside of 2019 when he played just two games), eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Still, should Washington pick him up?
“Absolutely,” Davis said. “Because Cam is a guy that’s proven, and he said it over and over: ‘there are not 32 guys that’s better than me,’ and I believe him 100%. He was my teammate. I know what he’s gonna bring to the table, I know how competitive he is, and I know that when he goes into that Washington franchise, he’s gonna make them a better team from day one.”
This begs the question, why hasn’t Rivera brought Newton in already? They certainly have the chemistry, winning the NFC together in 2015, and Washington would surely prefer to end the QB carousel that sprung out of Fitzpatrick’s injury.
“I feel like the reason why he hasn’t brought him in right now is because he doesn’t want to be pressured into making the decision. I feel like there’s a ton of pressure on him to do just that because everybody feels like that’s the right move,” Davis said. “Coach Rivera’s a powerful person, he wants to make his own decision.”
Washington, at present, has all eyes on Heinicke. The Old Dominion alum has already proven to be a solid placeholder at the QB position in his few appearances for WFT over the last two seasons.
He has a chance to cement his place as the starter in the nation’s capital with a good performance (and more importantly, a win) against New York on Thursday. Regardless, Washington needs to at least look at signing Newton for the remainder of the year, according to Davis.
“When he comes into a franchise, like I said, they’re gonna become a better team, a better place, because Cam Newton is in it. And I can promise you that.”