We are not even two full years into the new regime, yet Washington Football Head Coach Ron Rivera has already had a wild ride at the quarterback position. In Rivera’s 24 games (inc. playoffs) as Washington Football Team head coach, he has started five quarterbacks during that period. Rivera has essentially played a new quarterback every five games in Washington, which is not conducive to any type of sustained success that Rivera or fans may have hoped to have these days. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke has had his chance to put his name in the running as the long-term answer for the city. However, Heinicke’s shortcomings have put a halt on his ceiling, but there is no doubt that he can be a top-tier backup quarterback.
For Rivera, he has all but admitted that quarterback Taylor Heinicke is not the answer at the position, or at least right now. While fans spent some weeks evaluating Heincke’s play, witnessing his highs and lows, and coming to a conclusion on him, we had not heard Rivera’s long-term opinion on the quarterback position yet. Not until yesterday.
Rivera has a weekly interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies each Tuesday, speaking on various Washington Football subjects. This week Rivera stated that the team is constantly looking for a franchise quarterback. “It’s something that you always talk about, and until you get one, you’re always going to be looking. You’re wondering if there’s anyone on the current roster capable of developing, is there a guy in free agency, is there a guy in the draft we could do something for to get. We’re always talking about it.”
Now, Rivera’s statement does not eliminate Taylor Heinicke from taking over that position. However, a quarterback worth investing in would leave no doubt in the coach’s mind, which ultimately is why Rivera and his staff are evaluating the position as heavily as they are now. Furthermore, in his interview, Rivera refuted the rumor about him and his staff not liking any quarterback prospects this year, which indicates that we all can start looking at prospects now. (Which should not have stopped you anyway.)
“There are quarterbacks that we like [College], and there are quarterbacks that are in the NFL we like. You have to go through this process. If you don’t have a franchise quarterback and you’re not talking about this weekly, well, then you’re not paying attention. We’re trying to; we really are. Again, one thing that I’ve talked about the last year and a half is that if we couldn’t get the franchise quarterback, what we’ll try to do is put playmakers around him, guys around that we believe can protect him, that way when we feel that we have found our guy, we’ve got the right situation for him to come into.”
There are two things evident that make Ron’s statement valuable. First, when healthy (because a couple of starters are injured), the offensive line has been one of the better units in pass protection this year. Heading into week seven, the Washington Football Team had the sixth-best offensive line unit in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. Secondly, he stated that there were quarterbacks in the NFL that they liked. This past off-season proved that to be accurate, attempting to trade for Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and signing veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
So what about another veteran? What about Deshaun Watson?
Rivera was asked about a hypothetical in which Washington was to trade for the Houston Texans quarterback, with the trade deadline just a week away.
“If you were to make a trade with anybody in the league, you’d sit down and talk about it. Then you sit down and watch the tape. Then you go back and sit down with the coordinator and talk about how that person would fit into what we do. Then you discuss what you are willing to give up. Are we willing to give up core players that we put in place? Draft picks? If you are, then you’re willing to make that deal.”
Rivera had to speak in hypotheticals because he could not talk about players on another team’s roster. Still, the key takeaways are the discussions that would occur and understand that Washington would likely have to give up a core player and draft pick(s) to acquire a guy that is considered a “franchise” quarterback.
Rivera is highly aware that the fanbase is on edge, and the team is on the brink of losing even more of the people who are still hanging in there. However, when commenting on what the fans may or may not tolerate, he acknowledged that fans should not accept another “band-aid” solution to the most critical position.
“Well, they shouldn’t, this is about winning, and I get that part of it. That’s why we’re doing the things we are doing right now to try and ensure we have those pieces in place.”
That is the most important part of this entire discussion, winning and tolerance. For Rivera, nothing should matter more right now than finding a quarterback. The season’s goals have shifted for most; playoffs are a long shot based on how Washington is currently playing. Being passive and patient at the quarterback position is not ideal and should not be Rivera’s approach this off-season, or even this season, with the trade deadline looming, knowing that Watson is available.
Ron has entered a critical juncture w/WFT in my opinion. Nothing matters more right now than finding a QB, but which route will he take?— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) October 26, 2021
A rook will buy him more time, a vet will decrease the turnaround time, but a bandaid on the position will be a failure.#WashingtonFootball pic.twitter.com/54zE0ivdFH
Who knows what route Rivera will take when it is all said and done. However, one thing is for sure, Rivera and company shouldn’t expect nearly as much fan engagement as they had this off-season next year if they try and put a band-aid on the quarterback position, again. The fans are not entertaining the idea of watching the 2022 season with a quarterback who has no intention of playing in Washington for longer than a year or two.