For all intents and purposes, the Garrett Gilbert Era in Washington looks to be over with.
Taylor Heinicke, who entered the NFL’s COVID protocols last Friday, has tested out of them and therefore will presumably start this Sunday night against the Cowboys.
Washington has also activated linebacker David Mayo and tight end Temarrick Hemingway from the virus list.
During a Wednesday press conference, Ron Rivera told reporters that he was expecting one of his quarterbacks to soon be cleared. Kyle Allen entered the protocols two days before Heinicke did, but Heinicke has obviously exited before his backup.
The hope was that this development would occur before Washington’s Week 15 matchup with the Eagles, but when it didn’t, Gilbert was forced to step in and run the offense. All things considered, he did a solid job, too, but Heinicke’s return will be a welcome one for coordinator Scott Turner and the rest of the unit.
With Heinicke having passed his COVID tests, he’s now set to encounter another test: Solving the Dallas defense. His last action came in Week 14 versus the Cowboys and he ended up posting his worst performance as a member of Ron Rivera’s club. When he wasn’t being harassed by Micah Parsons and other edge rushers, he was forcing balls into windows that are typically reserved for the likes of Aaron Rodgers.
Washington will practice on Thursday and Friday ahead of their primetime showdown with the NFC East leaders, giving the quarterback two days worth of reps to reacquaint himself in the huddle. For the Burgundy and Gold to have a serious shot at the postseason, they’ll need to finish the year on a three-game winning streak.
Fortunately, Heinicke has already engineered a four-game heater in 2021. And now, thanks to Thursday’s change in his status, he’ll at least have the opportunity to cobble together another string of victories right when the organization could absolutely use one.