Think of a way to acquire a franchise quarterback and Washington already tried it.
Go all in on a blockbuster draft trade? They tried that with Robert Griffin III.
It didn’t work.
Be patient and take a first-round QB when the right player is available at your pick? They tried that with Dwayne Haskins.
It didn’t work.
Play it smart and safe and sign a veteran free agent? They tried that with Ryan Fitzpatrick.
It hasn’t worked.
What about trading for a veteran with a Pro Bowl resume? They tried that with Alex Smith.
That didn’t work either.
For more than 20 years, Washington has tried every avenue possible to get a franchise quarterback.
It just hasn’t worked.
So maybe it makes sense that at long last, unexpectedly and completely unpredictably, Washington stumbled into its QB of the future with Taylor Heinicke.
Everyone knows the improbable story by now. The math classes and couch surfing. Old Dominion and practice squads.
Surely the impressive performance against Tampa in last year’s Wild Card loss was a fluke. An outlier. Tampa didn’t even gameplan for Heinicke. That was the consensus, anyway.
And then the Week 1 comeback that came up just short, but the accuracy and improvisational skill that brought Washington to a puncher's chance against the Chargers, that was a mirage. Another outlier.
Well, after Thursday night’s gutsy, wild and at times erratic performance in a come from behind NFC East win, we’re running out of ways to dismiss Heinicke.
It’s time to take him seriously.
Against the Giants Heinicke went 34 of 46 for 336 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Late in the fourth quarter Heinicke engineered two come from behind drives, and even though one came after a bad pick, he never seemed lost or uncomfortable.
"He was very gutty," Washington coach Ron Rivera said of Heinicke. "The thing that was really impressive with him was the way that he bounced back after the turnover."
For all of his frenetic playing style, Heinicke maintains poise and trust in himself, the scheme and his teammates. And they trust him.
"He is a baller," Chase Young said of Heinicke after the game.
"He came in last year and showed that he can sling it. You just give him camp with the whole team and all these practices, and he can come into the game and throw that pill. We have all trust in four [Heinicke].”
Washington has tried everything at quarterback. Everything.
None of it has worked.
Sometimes the things you need most present themselves when nobody is looking.
Heinicke probably won’t go on to become the next Peyton Manning. It’s unlikely he turns into John Elway.
But could Heinicke’s career trajectory resemble that of Jeff Garcia or Tony Romo? Undrafted guys out of small schools that emerge as legit NFL quarterbacks?
It’s getting harder and harder to say no.