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NFL Power Rankings: It can’t get any worse for the Washington Commanders with Taylor Heinicke at QB?

New QB and a primetime win shifts some of the rankings

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Washington Football Team v Green Bay Packers Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

The Washington Commanders won their primetime debut against the Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football, but lost their starting QB due to a fractured finger. Carson Wentz is expected to miss at least a month after having successful surgery to the ring finger on his throwing hand. That means it’s Taylor Heinicke time, despite calls from a portion of the fanbase to see what 5th round rookie Sam Howell has to offer for the future. Washington’s average ranking went up(slightly) this week. Was that because of the win that felt like a loss, or the QB change?

High: 27

Low: 32

Average: 29.1


The 33rd Team(Domowitch)

Good news: Their pass rush has been their saving grace. They’re tied for third in sacks with 19, including 10 in the last two games.

Bad news: They’ve lost their struggling QB Carson Wentz for 4-6 weeks with an injury to his throwing hand. Given that they’ve scored just 47 points in the last four games, though, this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. I mean, can they play any worse with Taylor Heinecke in there? Last Week: 30


With Carson Wentz out for a few weeks, why not see what Sam Howell can do? Last Week: 31


Last Week: 24



Washington’s offense was thought to have improved after adding quarterback Carson Wentz, receiver Jahan Dotson and a healthy Curtis Samuel. Fact check: It’s not. They’re averaging 16.7 offensive points per game compared to 18.7 last season. Wentz has struggled behind a line that can’t pass protect and in an offense that has once more failed to establish an identity. Injuries have played a role — Washington is on its fourth center — but other teams have handled those much better than Washington. And the starting point with the line, thanks to personnel decisions, wasn’t good for the Commanders. — John Keim Last Week: 31

Sporting News(Iyer)

The Commanders don’t get any style points for producing just enough points to beat the Bears. Carson Wentz’s inconsistencies and injuries are concerning, but they need to build on their best defensive performance above all else to push toward .500. Last Week: 31

Athlon Sports(Fischer)

Carson Wentz is out for the next several weeks with that hand injury and is it possible that the Commanders might be better off? After getting lucky against the Bears, it seems quite possible. Last Week: 31

New York Post(Dunleavy)

Last Week: 32


The Ringer(Gayle)

Carson Wentz underwent successful surgery on Monday after suffering a fractured finger on this throwing hand in the team’s win over the Bears on Thursday night. He’s expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Players getting hurt is never good news, but the glass-half-full look is that Washington’s quarterback play can’t get much worse with Wentz out. The only quarterbacks with 120 or more dropbacks and a lower EPA average than Wentz this season are Joe Flacco, Mitchell Trubisky, Davis Mills, and Baker Mayfield—two of those guys are second-stringers. Wentz also shares the league lead in sacks (23) and has thrown six picks and lost a fumble (with five other fumbles that were recovered by Washington) through six games, but the worst of it all has been his downfield accuracy. He ranks 30th in completion percentage on throws 10-plus yards downfield at 37.5 percent.

Veteran Taylor Heinicke, who started 15 games for Washington last season, will replace Wentz starting against the Packers at home in Week 7. He finished the season ranked 25th in EPA per dropback (-0.05) and led a Commanders offense that ranked 26th in success rate (42.1 percent). Last Week: 28

Yahoo Sports(Schwab)

Carson Wentz reportedly could miss a month or more with a fractured finger suffered last week. Taylor Heinicke is next up, though Commanders fans probably want a look at rookie Sam Howell after his promising preseason. Maybe that will happen before Wentz returns. It might depend on how Heinicke holds up. Last Week: 31

USA Today(Davis)

Injured Wentz is not only 7-0 on Thursdays during his career, he’s 13-3 in games not played on Sunday. If Washington is, er, lucky, he’ll return by Week 10’s Monday night date in Philadelphia – a city which would love to “welcome” Wentz back. Last Week: 31

CBS Sports(Prisco)

They will be without Carson Wentz for a while. That would mean it’s Taylor Heinicke at quarterback, starting this week against the Packers. Last Week: 32

Bleacher Report

If it’s possible to lose while winning, the Washington Commanders accomplished that feat Thursday in Chicago.

Thanks to a late Bears turnover and Brian Robinson’s first NFL touchdown, the Commanders were able to put a halt to their four-game losing streak. But they did so in a game where Washington managed just 214 yards of offense and converted just two of 11 third-down attempts.

However, while speaking to reporters after the game, quarterback Carson Wentz said the Commanders will take a win any way they can get one.

“It was a huge,” Wentz said. “We’ve been on a skid lately, we’ve been in some tough games, had some tough go’s with it. This one was huge.”

That those sentiments came from a quarterback who failed to throw for 100 yards in the game shows just how ugly a win this was. And with four straight games coming against teams that are .500 or better, Washington needs to play much better to avoid another multi-game losing streak. Last Week: 28

The Lines

Washington emerged victorious in one of the ugliest primetime games in NFL history last Thursday. Carson Wentz has taken 23 sacks through six games due in no small part to his poor pre-snap reads. Last Week: 30


Taylor Heinicke to the rescue? Seriously, he can’t be much worse than Carson Wentz. Last Week: 30


The Commanders didn’t play particularly well on Thursday night, but sometimes you can win simply by letting the other team beat itself. That’s how it felt after two crucial Bears blunders in the second half — a muffed punt and goal-line bobble — allowed Washington to escape Soldier Field with a 12-7 win. With Carson Wentz expected to be sidelined for four-to-six weeks after fracturing the ring finger on his throwing hand against Chicago, the Commanders will turn to Taylor Heinicke when they face the Packers on Sunday. Last Week: 30

Touchdown Wire(Farrar)

Yes, the Commanders did manage a 12-7 win over the Bears on Thursday night, but between even more off-field stuff for the league’s most dysfunctional franchise, and the finger injury that could keep Carson Wentz out for multiple weeks, is there any doubt that this franchise will keep circling the drain in every capacity as long as Daniel Snyder owns the team? Last Week: 31

The Score

The Commanders snapped a four-game losing streak with a Thursday night win over the Bears, but that hardly inspires much confidence. Carson Wentz now appears set to miss time. This team is firmly in the mix to be drafting a quarterback early. Last Week: 31


Narrowly taking out the Chicago Bears shouldn’t cool down the hot seat for Ron Rivera. While Carson Wentz is playing through multiple injuries, they don’t change the fact that he isn’t coming anything close to the standard this franchise set out for him before the season. Washington remains one of the worst NFL teams right now and the least Daniel Snyder could do for a suffering fan base is to sell the team for a $5 billion profit. Last Week: 32


Taylor Heinicke will make the Commanders instantly more watchable. It’s almost like they should have rolled with him from the jump rather than trade for Carson Wentz in the first place. Crazy turn of events not a single solitary soul could have seen coming. Last Week: 32


Last Week: 30



From discord surrounding the franchise to panic at the press conference podium, the Commanders are flailing, and it’s quite obvious to everyone looking out from afar. While the efforts of some to make this team look and feel presentable are admirable, the Commanders are what they are at their core. And that’s difficult to change barring a sale. Last Week: 31

Walter Football

The Redskins could easily be 0-6 right now if the Jaguars didn’t shoot themselves in the foot repeatedly in Week 1, and the Bears took two field goals during their three trips inside the 5-yard line on Thursday night. Washington was outgained in that game, 392-214! Last Week: 29


The Athletic(Wulf)

Maybe the Commanders aren’t quite the very worst team in football, but no team has worse vibes or less hope. After barely eking out a 12-7 win in which they were outgained 392-214 in total yards, Ron Rivera mashed the “us-against-the-world” motivation button on his head coach simulator, passionately declaring that he was the “f—ing guy that pulled out the sheets of paper, looked at the analytics, watched the tape when we were at Indianapolis, OK?” He then stormed off so he didn’t have to answer any more questions about Daniel Snyder.

Now Carson Wentz is out for some time and Taylor Heinicke is back at the helm. And while Snyder selling the team would be a dream come true for Commanders fans, they know him well enough to know that Al Michaels’ public declaration of the NFL’s preference is probably only going to make the worst owner in sports dig in his heels even more. Last Week: 31


Where should the Washington Commanders be ranked after 6 weeks?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Bottom 10
    (48 votes)
  • 26%
    Bottom 5
    (93 votes)
  • 40%
    Bottom 3
    (142 votes)
  • 18%
    (65 votes)
348 votes total Vote Now