Nov 14, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) prepares to snap the ball during the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders name Taylor Heinicke starting QB for Week 11

Washington head coach Ron Rivera named Taylor Heinicke the Commanders’ starting quarterback for this week’s game against the Houston Texans.

Carson Wentz (finger) resumed throwing Wednesday but has not been cleared for a return to practice. He’s eligible to come off injured reserve after missing four weeks.

Wentz started the season as the QB1 in Washington until a fractured right ring finger sent him to IR following a Week 6 win over the Chicago Bears.

Heinicke is 3-1 since Wentz went to the sideline with a 2-4 record. Heinicke capped the active run Monday night with a 32-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, who were previously unbeaten and among Super Bowl favorites.

The 29-year-old Heinicke has five touchdowns and four interceptions in 2022, piloting a run-first offense to wins over the Eagles, Colts and Packers in addition to a three-point loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Once Wentz is cleared for a return to practice, the Commanders have 21 days to add him to the active roster. Whether Wentz reclaims the starting QB role at that point is anyone’s guess.

“You have to look at the momentum,” Rivera said Wednesday. “You have to look at what the mood of the team is, obviously. You look at what is best for the team, and at the end of the day, that’s how it has to be.”

Acquired by the Commanders from the Indianapolis Colts, Wentz had 10 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He was sacked nine times in a 24-8 loss to the Eagles on Sept. 25.

–Field Level Media

Aug 20, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) talks with quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) on the sidelines against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders not ready to make QB call

Commanders coach Ron Rivera plans to report back on the status of the starting quarterback job in Washington when a decision has been made.

Rivera said Tuesday he hasn’t gathered all of the medical information on Carson Wentz, who started the season as the QB1 in Washington until a fractured right ring finger sent him to injured reserve following a Week 6 win over the Chicago Bears.

Heinicke is 3-1 since Wentz went to the sideline with a 2-4 record and the Commanders looking like a team ready to dig into prospect evaluation for the 2023 NFL Draft. He capped the active run Monday night with a 32-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, who were previously unbeaten and among Super Bowl favorites.

Heinicke said Monday night he was prepared to do whatever Rivera needed him to do — start or help the Commanders move forward with Wentz.

“My role this year was to be backup to Carson and, if he went down, be ready to play, and I feel like I’ve done that,” Heinicke said. “I’m just going out there and trying to win games for this team. And if they want to put Carson back in, great. I’ll be the best backup I can be to him and help him in any way I can. But for me right now, I just go in there and try to do the best I can.”

The 29-year-old Heinicke has five touchdowns and four interceptions in 2023, piloting a run-first offense to wins over the Eagles, Colts and Packers in addition to a three-point loss to the other NFC favorite, Minnesota.

“The first thing I’m going to tell everybody is not to get ahead of ourselves — first we’ve got to return him from practice and make sure he’s cleared and ready to go,” Rivera said Tuesday.

Rivera said he would talk to the medical team, front office, coaching staff and quarterbacks before anyone outside of the facility was informed of the Commanders’ direction.

“You guys will be the last ones to get notified,” he said.

Wentz can return to practice Wednesday, but the Commanders then have 21 days to activate him.

Acquired by the Commanders from the Indianapolis Colts, Wentz had 10 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He was sacked nine times in a 24-8 loss to the Eagles on Sept. 25.

–Field Level Media

Aug 20, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Taylor Heinicke announced as Commanders starting QB

Washington coach Ron Rivera on Tuesday anointed Taylor Heinicke the starting quarterback for the Commanders’ Week 7 game against the Green Bay Packers.

Rookie Sam Howell will be the backup.

Heinicke replaces Carson Wentz, who underwent surgery Monday on his fractured finger. Wentz is expected to be sidelined 4 to 6 weeks.

“Taylor right now gives us the best chance,” Rivera said Tuesday.

Rivera was asked if any consideration was given to tabbing Howell as the starter.

“We didn’t want to put Sam in this situation this early in his career,” Rivera said. “I think Sam is still learning what we do and how we do it … we think he’s on track.”

Wentz fractured the ring finger of his throwing hand in last week’s win over the Chicago Bears. He underwent successful surgery Monday in Los Angeles, the Commanders said in a statement. Hand specialist Dr. Steven Shin performed the surgery. Rivera said a decision on whether to place Wentz on injured reserve would come later this week.

The Commanders selected Howell in the fifth round of this year’s draft.

Wentz sustained the injury late in the first half of Thursday’s win when his hand hit Bears defensive lineman Justin Jones on his follow-through. He remained in the game and played the entirety of the contest.

Wentz finished 12-of-22 passing for 99 yards. He has 1,489 yards passing on the season with 10 touchdowns against six interceptions.

Heinicke went 7-8 as Washington’s starter in 2021. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,419 yards and 20 TDs against 15 INTs.

The Commanders (2-4) host the Green Bay Packers (3-3) this Sunday.

–Field Level Media

Oct 13, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) looks to pass against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Commanders QB Carson Wentz has fractured finger

Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz’s availability is in question after he sustained a fractured finger on his throwing hand in Thursday’s victory over the Chicago Bears, NFL Network reported Saturday.

Per the report, Wentz is headed to Los Angeles to see a hand specialist to assess the situation.

Wentz completed 12 of 22 passes for 99 yards without a touchdown or interception in Washington’s 12-7 win over Chicago on Thursday night.

Taylor Heinicke serves as the backup and rookie Sam Howell is the third-string quarterback for the Commanders (2-4), who return to action against the visiting Green Bay Packers on Oct. 23.

Wentz, 29, has thrown for 1,489 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in six games this season.

He has completed 62.6 percent of his passes with 150 touchdowns and 63 picks in 91 career games with the Eagles (2016-20), Indianapolis Colts (2021) and Commanders since being selected by Philadelphia with the second overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera greets quarterback Carson Wentz (11) before the game between the Washington Commanders and the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders’ Ron Rivera apologizes to Carson Wentz for QB comment

Too late for an audible, Commanders coach Ron Rivera called a mea culpa instead.

In front of the entire team, Rivera said he needed to apologize for suggesting Washington quarterback Carson Wentz was the reason the franchise isn’t in the lead pack of the NFC East this season.

“I didn’t have to. I was fortunate enough that our media relations director contacted him and let him know,” Rivera said in a radio interview Tuesday morning. “And I actually talked to Carson this morning. In fact I talked to the whole team. I had a mea culpa moment and that I should know better. I created a little bit of a distraction and that’s one thing that I try not to do and it’s one thing that I’m very aware of. Again, it’s one of those things that when you misstep, people can’t wait to dive onto it and jump onto it and hold onto it without an opportunity to explain yourself.

“So, hey, that’s on me. I should know better.”

On Monday, Rivera was asked why other NFC East teams are ahead in the division, and he responded: “Quarterback.”

Even the Dallas Cowboys (4-1), winners of four straight with backup Cooper Rush in for Dak Prescott, are in the upper tier along with the New York Giants (4-1) and Philadelphia Eagles (5-0).

But Rivera said Tuesday he meant the familiarity of those quarterbacks with the system the team employs was the reason for their early success.

“No, I got no regrets about that quarterback,” he said Monday of making the Wentz trade with the Indianapolis Colts in March. “I think our quarterback has done some good things. There’s been a couple games that he struggled, but you look at his numbers from yesterday and you would say, ‘OK, look, his numbers he’s had throughout the year, there times he was very solid.’ And then we had the unfortunate Philadelphia game, and he struggled a little bit in the Dallas game. But the way he performed yesterday, and it just shows you what he’s capable of and we chose him because we believe in him. We chose him because we looked at what we felt were things that pointed towards him.”

Wentz has been sacked 20 times this season. He had 359 yards passing and two TDs in the loss to the Titans last week. Rivera repeated the suggestion that time will only improve Washington’s product because of cohesion between players and the quarterback in a familiar system.

“We have a quarterback, he’s been here for his first season, and as he continues to work and develop with our guys and assimilate to what we do, I think we will be progressively better,” Rivera said. “I thought he played very well this past week. He had some really good moments. He had a couple that I know he wished he had back, but the guy played, for the most part, a pretty doggone good football game.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera greets quarterback Carson Wentz (11) before the game between the Washington Commanders and the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Rivera: ‘Quarterback’ why Commanders are last in NFC East

When Ron Rivera was asked Monday why the other teams in the NFC East are further along in rebuilding their teams than the Washington Commanders, Rivera had a one-word answer: “Quarterback.”

The Washington coach soon clarified that he had no regrets over the team’s blockbuster trade to acquire Carson Wentz amid the team’s 1-4 start.

“No, I got no regrets about the quarterback,” Rivera said. “I think our quarterback has done some good things. There’s been a couple games that he struggled, but you look at his numbers from yesterday and you would say, OK, look, at his numbers he’s had throughout the year, there was a time he was very solid. And then we had the unfortunate Philadelphia game, and he struggled a bit in the Dallas game.

“But the way he performed (Sunday against Tennessee), it just shows you what he’s capable of and we chose him because we believe in him. We chose him because we looked at what we felt were things that pointed towards him.”

The Commanders are looking up at the Philadelphia Eagles (5-0), the New York Giants (4-1) and the Dallas Cowboys (4-1) in the division. Philadelphia jettisoned Wentz two years ago to make Jalen Hurts the centerpiece of its offense; now the Eagles are the only unbeaten team in football.

The Giants are getting more out of Daniel Jones in his fourth NFL season after declining to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. And the Cowboys, who lost Dak Prescott to a broken thumb in their Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay, have won four straight games behind backup Cooper Rush.

The Commanders, on the other hand, opened the season by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars and have lost four in a row since.

Wentz has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 1,390 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. He’s also taken 20 sacks in five games and lost one fumble. On Sunday, he threw an interception at the Tennessee 2-yard line at the end of the game to let the Titans escape with a 21-17 win.

Rivera said the NFL is a quarterback-driven league and teams can only build success “around a specific quarterback.”

Alex Smith, who was with Washington in 2018-20 and overlapped with Rivera in 2020, called out his former coach while appearing as an analyst on ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown.”

“I’m not going to lie, I had a really hard time watching that. When I heard it, I couldn’t believe it. I’m not here to defend Carson Wentz, he’s had a tumultuous career and ups and downs. But this is a defensive head coach that is absolutely driving the bus over his quarterback.”

Smith noted that Wentz ranked fourth in the NFL in passing yards, while the Commanders ranked 28th in rushing offense and tied for 26th in scoring defense.

“The blame has got to be spread around,” Smith said.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) throws a pass in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Next QB benched? Carson Wentz leaps Baker Mayfield as favorite

The first shoe has dropped in the NFL quarterback carousel, with the Pittsburgh Steelers turning the reins of their offense over to first-round rookie Kenny Pickett.

Carolina’s Baker Mayfield may have beaten Mitch Trubisky to the ignominious distinction of being the first NFL quarterback benched this season, if not for the Panthers’ simple lack of options.

With 2021 starter Sam Darnold “not close” to returning from a high-ankle sprain, according to coach Matt Rhule, and rookie Matt Corral (foot) out for the season, the only other quarterback on the roster is former XFL star P.J. Walker.

Mayfield opened as the +150 favorite by SportsBetting.ag on Tuesday to be the next starting quarterback benched, but he was quickly passed by another struggling veteran.

Washington is off to a 1-3 start under Carson Wentz, who is with his third team in as many seasons. Wentz has thrown for 1,031 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions through the first quarter of the season.

However, Wentz’s passer rating has declined each week, bottoming out at 58.4 in Sunday’s loss at Dallas in which he threw for 170 yards with one touchdown and a pair of interceptions.

The Commanders are already two games behind Dallas and the New York Giants, and three behind Philadelphia in the NFC East.

Washington coach Ron Rivera, who agreed to take on Wentz’s $28.3 million cap hit this season when acquiring the quarterback from Indianapolis, is on an increasingly hot seat himself. Wentz is Rivera’s sixth different starting quarterback in just three seasons, and the coach preached patience with the offense on Monday.

The Commanders have last year’s starter, Taylor Heinicke, along with fifth-round rookie Sam Howell on the roster.

Next Quarterback Benched Odds (non-injury related)
Player (Team) Opening Odds, Current
Carson Wentz (Commanders) +175, +125
Baker Mayfield (Panthers) +150, +175
Davis Mills (Texans) +700, +700
Justin Fields (Bears) +900, +900
Geno Smith (Seahawks) +1000, +1000
Marcus Mariota (Falcons) +1000, +1000
Matt Ryan (Colts) +900, +1200
Ryan Tannehill (Titans) +1100, +1200
Jared Goff (Lions) +2000, +2500

For the time being, it would appear to be a race between Wentz and Mayfield as there aren’t many logical replacements – or needs – for the other players being offered in the market.

–Houston is the lone remaining winless team in the league but Mills’ only backup is journeyman Kyle Allen.

–Fields has struggled to lead a consistent passing game in Chicago but the Bears are 2-2 at the quarter mark. The No. 11 overall pick in 2021 is completing only 50.7 percent of his passes with a pair of touchdowns against four interceptions, but the team is highly unlikely to turn the offense over to journeyman Trevor Siemian.

–Mariota has helped Atlanta rebound from an 0-2 start and has the Falcons tied atop the NFC South at 2-2.

–Meanwhile, Smith leads the NFL with a 77.3 completion percentage and Seattle is surprisingly 2-2 along with the rest of the NFC West.

–Ryan has struggled through the first month of his tenure in Indianapolis. Coach Frank Reich is placing the brunt of the offensive issues on his woeful line and the Colts still envision themselves as a threat in the AFC. Moving on from Ryan in favor of Nick Foles or Sam Ehlinger doesn’t appear to be anywhere in Reich’s thoughts.

–The story is similar in Tennessee, where Tannehill has long been the fodder for critics. But the Titans are tied atop the AFC South at 2-2 and third-round rookie Malik Willis in not considered to being anywhere close to ready to lead the offense.

–The Lions have tumbled to a 1-3 start but Goff has not been the issue. Detroit leads the NFL with 140 points scored but the 141 the Lions have allowed is 26 more than any other team.

That brings the conversation back to Wentz and Mayfield.

Rivera has pointed to poor pass protection and the league’s 21st-ranked run game as contributing factors in Wentz’s declining production. He did sound Monday like a he was ready to make a move soon to Heinicke or Howell.

Rhule is in a different predicament due to the injuries to Darnold and Corral.

Rhule said Mayfield will remain under center, hardly providing strong endorsement for the former first overall pick of the Cleveland Browns. Mayfield is among the lowest-rated quarterbacks in the league, completing a career-low 54.7 percent of his passes while throwing four touchdowns and three interceptions.

“I think Baker is our quarterback,” Rhule said Monday. “We just need Baker to settle down and play within the scheme. That is something he believes in, we all believe in.”

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) presses on one of his eye black strips during the second quarter of the game on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Indianapolis Colts Versus Jacksonville Jaguars On Sunday Jan 9 2022 Tiaa Bank Field In Jacksonville Fla

New Commander: Washington to acquire QB Carson Wentz

Washington has a new Commander.

Quarterback Carson Wentz is on the move again, reportedly acquired by Washington in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts for two third-round picks, according to multiple reports Wednesday.

Washington reportedly made an offer to the Seattle Seahawks for Russell Wilson. Wilson instead will relocate to Denver in a deal with the Broncos that can’t become official until March 16.

The same applies to the Colts sending Wentz to the Commanders at the start of the league year, marking a third team in three seasons for the former No. 2 overall pick who began his career with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Now a division foe of the Eagles, Wentz gives the Commanders a stable starter after a revolving door that included Alex Smith, first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Taylor Heinicke.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard was non-committal about Wentz sticking around for 2022, even after they had a meeting during the NFL Scouting Combine.

“Ultimately, you’ve got to have a guy that you believe in and can win with,” Ballard said.

Wentz, 29, was the second pick in the 2016 draft and performed at near MVP levels as a second-team All-Pro pick in 2017. But a knee injury kept him out of the playoffs that year and Wentz watched as Nick Foles guided the Eagles to a Super Bowl LII championship.

NFL Network reported the Colts could turn their attention to Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) gets water during a timeout against Arizona, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Indianapolis Colts At Arizona Cardinals At State Farm Stadium In Glendale Ariz On Saturday Dec 25 2021 Christmas Day Nfl

Colts’ Carson Wentz (COVID-19) moves closer to playing vs. Raiders

The Indianapolis Colts activated Carson Wentz from the COVID-19 list on Saturday, keeping the door open for the quarterback to be available for Sunday’s home game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Per NFL guidelines, Wentz had to be activated by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday to have a chance to play. Wentz, who is unvaccinated, reportedly needs to clear testing protocol on Sunday to be able to take the field.

Wentz will start for the Colts (9-6) if he clears protocol. Otherwise, rookie Sam Ehlinger will make his first career start.

Wentz, who turned 29 on Thursday, has thrown for 3,230 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions in 15 games this season.

Ehlinger was a sixth-round selection in the 2021 draft out of Texas. He hasn’t thrown an NFL pass in three appearances.

Indianapolis also activated cornerback T.J. Carrie and right tackle Braden Smith from the COVID-19 list and waived center Joey Hunt and tackle Greg Senat.

Among the Colts’ other moves on Saturday was elevating quarterback Brett Hundley from the practice squad as a COVID-19 replacement.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Brett Hundley (3) runs against Detroit Lions defensive end Bruce Hector (76) and  linebacker Charles Harris (53) during the second half of a preseason game at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021.

Reports: Colts QB Brett Hundley, not Jacob Eason, worked with starters Wednesday

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Brett Hundley took the first-team reps on Wednesday ahead of Jacob Eason, the expected starter if injured Carson Wentz can’t play Sunday.

According to multiple reports, Hundley worked ahead of Eason as Wentz missed practice with two sprained ankles. Wentz left the Week 2 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth quarter and has “significant swelling,” head coach Frank Reich said.

Hundley and Eason are both being prepped with the expectation Wentz will miss the Week 3 game at Tennessee, Reich said.

Wentz wouldn’t count himself out and said he’ll “throw the kitchen sink” at the rehab and treatment process with a goal of facing the Titans.

The Colts are 0-2 with three consecutive road games ahead.

Wentz said he has never played in a game after not practicing the week prior, and Reich indicated the Colts prefer using Friday’s practice as a benchmark for determining if players will be ready for gameday.

–Field Level Media