We haven’t said this often over the last two decades (if not longer), but the Washington Commanders enter the 2022 season in a (gulps) favorable situation at quarterback following their blockbuster trade for Carson Wentz.
While Wentz is as polarizing as any quarterback in the NFL, he owns a career 44-40-1 record while averaging nearly 3,400 passing yards per season to go with 140 touchdowns to 57 interceptions and a 90.1 passer rating.
Behind Wentz, the Commanders have the ever-reliable Taylor Heinicke, who is entering the final year of a two-year extension he inked last offseason.
Behind him, Washington boasts an intriguing development project in fifth-round selection Sam Howell, whose floor seems to be a backup quarterback whereas his ceiling could be a low-level starter if he irons out some weaknesses.
With Howell likely taking a redshirt year as a rookie, Heinicke still represents irreplaceable value as Wentz’s backup. Heinicke established himself as one of the league’s top backup QBs last season and CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin’s latest rankings of the overlooked position are a reflection of that.
CBS Sports’ backup quarterback rankings give Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke his due respect.
Heinicke checked in at No. 6 in Benjamin’s rankings.
That might seem a little disrespectful, but it’s worth noting Jimmy Garoppolo and Baker Mayfield qualified. While Trey Lance is expected to take the quarterback reins from Garoppolo in San Francisco, Mayfield is technically Deshaun Watson’s backup until Watson gets suspended or Mayfield is traded. Both outcomes are likely.
Behind Garoppolo and Mayfield, however, were Teddy Bridgewater, Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew ranked before Heinicke. We don’t push back on Bridgewater and Minshew, both of whom offer more at the position relative to Heinicke. When it comes to Foles, however, he does really deserve such recognition?
Although a former Super Bowl MVP and Pro Bowler, Foles has been an objectively lousy quarterback since his SB triumph in Philly. Over the last three seasons (12 starts), Foles is 3-9 with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions to go with a 6.4 yards per attempt and a lowly 39.0 quarterback rating.
At 33 years old, Foles’ best days are clearly behind him, whereas Heinicke is fresh off leading Washington to a 7-8 record on a brutal schedule while posting better numbers than Foles (20 touchdowns, 15 INTs, 6.9 YPA, etc.) .
And who could forget Heinicke coming off the bench to nearly lead Washington to an improbable upset over the eventual champion Buccaneers in the 2020 playoffs? He pushed Tom Brady and Co. to the absolute brink at FedEx field
That’s really the only qualm we have with Benjamin’s rankings. Move Heinicke one spot ahead of the declining Foles and these are perfect. In that scenario, Heinicke would beat out Foles, Case Keenum, Jacoby Brissett, Andy Dalton and Tyrod Taylor; a more accurate reflection of what Heinicke offers as a backup.