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Burning questions in Week 16: let’s talk quarterbacks

Poll questions!

Washington Commanders and the Carolina Panthers Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Washington Commanders fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in weekly in-season email surveys sent to fans around the world.

Heading into Week 16 of the season, we want to know how you’re feeling after watching the team so far this year. Every week of the season we will ask fans if they are confident the team is headed in the right direction and more of the most pressing questions facing the coming game. Let us know what you think!

Last Sunday, Carson Wentz was fully healthy and active for the first time since the Week 6 win against the Chicago Bears. He backed up Taylor Heinicke in a game where #4 lost two fumbles (one for a defensive touchdown), and in which the offense scored only 12 points while the defense held the Giants offense to 13 points in a home loss that largely cemented New York’s playoff hopes, while making every remaining game for Washington look like a “must win”.

In the wake of the loss, Ron Rivera’s continuing support for Taylor Heinicke seemed tepid and conditional, and the head coach’s tone made it sound as if he’d be looking for reasons to switch back to Wentz as the team’s starting QB.

Of course, the Commanders also have the 5th-round rookie, Sam Howell, who appeared to be the top QB prospect in the nation in 2021, inactive for games again, having never taken a 2022 snap.

Some people — Ron Rivera seems to be among them — seem reluctant to change horses in the middle of a playoff fight. The Commanders are underdogs going to San Francisco for a Christmas Eve game against the 49ers, but then, they were heavy underdogs going into Philadelphia in Week 10 to play the Eagles. Taylor Heinicke will definitely get the start in that game, but there’s no guarantee he’ll finish it if the offense struggles early.

Carson Wentz has a lot of backers in the Washington fan base as well, and they have been pretty vocal this week, criticizing Taylor Heinicke for his rough outing against the Giants, and saying that the shift in offensive philosophy to a heavy dose of Brian Robinson and top-ten defense would allow Carson Wentz to fare much better now than he did during the team’s 2-4 start to the season when he had neither.

A third section of the fan base sees Washington’s playoff hopes as more hypothetical than realistic following the tie and the loss versus the Giants in the past two games. Most of the fans in this group look at the remaining schedule of the 49ers, Browns and Cowboys and don’t see any way that the Commanders win enough games to stay ahead of both the Seahawks and the surging Detroit Lions. In their minds, for the most part, even if Washington manages to squeeze into the postseason as the 7th seed, the Commanders aren’t a legitimate championship team, and won’t be with Taylor Heinicke or Carson Wentz behind center going forward. These fans want the coaches to find out if they managed to draft the golden goose in the 5th round. It’s time, they say, to find out what Sam Howell can do in an NFL game; most of them argue that it’s past time, saying that two games is too small a sample size.

It is a tradition in Washington to always have a fan base that is arguing about the quarterback position. My teenage years were spent listening to the Billy vs Sonny arguments. In the five season from 1985-1990, Washington had Joe Theismann, Jay Schreoder, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien, Stan Humphries (and two other quarterbacks) start games. I can tell you from living through it that the fan base was as splintered over the quarterback question then as we are now. Most HH members are old enough to remember and recite the list of quarterbacks that have paraded through Washington DC since Rypien took his last snap in a Redskins uniform.

We had a short glorious season in 2012 when it appeared that Robert Griffin was going to bring stability to the position, followed by a couple of seasons of RG3, Cousins & McCoy. Surprisingly, the last period of relative stability the team enjoyed was 3 seasons with Kirk Cousins starting every game, yet even those three years were marred by constant arguments over the handling of Kirk’s contract and the use of back-to-back franchise tags to keep him in DC.

Since Cousins left for the great purple north at the end of the 2017 season, Washington has had an incredible 11 different players start games for the franchise in less than 6 full seasons, and we seem further from solving the quarterback conundrum today than we have been at any time in those six seasons.

So, today, with three games left in the 2022 regular season, and Washington’s playoff future uncertain and hanging in the balance, I want to skip ahead to next season — to 2023.

There are two questions below that ask about the QB position for next year. Read all the options fully before selecting the one you want to vote for in each question.

Results & discussion

We’ll publish results of the survey before Saturday’s game against the 49ers.

As always, feel free to leave comments below, as I rely on them when I report the survey results.