Understanding Taylor Heinicke’s Passing Strugglesby Joe Chambers November 15, 2021 2 comments
The Washington Football Team currently is tied for third place in the NFC East with a record of 3-6 coming off a huge win against Tom Brady‘s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Playing against the reigning Super Bowl Champions was a challenge for Washington, especially in their passing department. Washington’s win at home against the Buccaneers was huge, as Taylor Heinicke made some key throws in the game. So far this season, Washington has had multiple forced throws leading to interceptions, bad reads, and miscommunication. Here are why these three issues played a major part in Washington’s struggles this season.
Forced Throws Leading to Interceptions
Heinicke currently has nine interceptions this season, tied for four among quarterbacks alongside rookies Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson. Heinicke has had three games where he has thrown two interceptions. In Washington’s game against the Denver Broncos in Week 8, they had a lucky second chance to score. Had they scored and made the PAT, the game would have gone into overtime. However, Heinicke overthrew his receiver on the last play by fives yards. Even though Heinicke has a 65.7 percent completion percentage on the season, he is averaging a quarterback rating of 86.5 in games he’s started. Unfortunately, Washington’s early-season defensive struggles have not helped the cause either. However, the defense started out strong this week, intercepting Brady twice in the twice quarter and only allowing 19 points in the game.
Quarterbacks have bad reads all the time, but it feels like Heinicke makes a handful of bad reads each game. Washington’s passing offense consists of check downs, slants, and in-and-out routes. We have not seen Heinicke throw the ball deep on post or vertical routes much this season because of the play-calling. Heinicke looks frazzled sometimes in the pocket and misreads the defense, causing him to throw an incompletion or an interception. The game has shifted tremendously throughout the past couple of seasons. Washington and Heinicke have not adjusted to those changes. Basically, it’s the same gamelan every week with a different opponent. In the NFL, this does not work. If Washington does not fix this soon, consider them to be in the bottom half of the league for years to come.
The biggest issue in football is miscommunication. This stems from not hearing the play correctly in the huddle, an audible being called, or not understanding the quarterback’s cadence. Heinicke is still building confidence with his receivers by understanding the timing of routes and tendencies. Two weeks ago, we saw the outburst that Robby Anderson had with Sam Darnold on the sideline, which most likely was caused by misunderstanding a route. Heinicke’s best target right now is Terry McLaurin and their communication is critical. The connection is huge and Heinicke just needs to continue making a strong connection with receivers.
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