Taylor Heinicke, the quarterback for Washington, went from being a brat to setting NCAA records to spraying seltzer.
During Taylor Heinicke’s first NFL drive in two years, he had to wait through a TV break. Rookie defensive end Chase Young ran up to him during the break. He wanted to give Heinicke hope. The player who had never been drafted and had 58 career passes stopped Young.
Heinicke told him, “I’ve got you, bro.” “This is my job.”
In a 20-13 loss to Carolina, he led one drive that ended with a touchdown and another that almost did. And as Washington (6-9) gets ready for Sunday’s (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC) season finale against the Eagles in Philadelphia, where a win would give them the NFC East title, there’s one thing you can be sure of about Heinicke: he’ll be ready.
We don’t know if he will play or not. But Heinicke must be ready to start if Alex Smith can’t. Even though he just moved to Washington on December 8, the coaches thought he was more reliable than Dwayne Haskins, who was let go on Monday.
Heinicke first went to Old Dominion in 2011 to study engineering. When Washington called, he was taking four classes: Mathematics in Nature, Number Theory and Discrete Mathematics, Applied Numerical Methods, and Partial Differential Equations.
After his freshman year at ODU, when he became a starter, the Monarchs switched to an Air Raid offense, which spread the field. He said that they had 12 pass plays, but he had to read the defense to know which one to use.
Former ODU coach Bobby Wilder said, “I’ve coached quarterbacks for 32 years, and I’ve only had one five-read guy, and that was Taylor.” “He could go from 1 to 5 in 2.6 seconds because he could do one or two reads before the snap and then start the play.”
Wilder said that he would tell Heinicke, “When your teammates look at you, they need to feel organized and inspired.” He gave those guys a boost.”
Young felt it during the game against Carolina.
“He’s got some swag,” he said.
Here’s more about a player who could decide who wins the NFC East:
Patrick Mahomes beat the record he had set.
Heinicke set a new NCAA record for passing yards on September 22, 2012, when ODU beat New Hampshire 64-61. He threw for 730 yards and five touchdowns. In 2014, Connor Halliday of Washington State threw for 734 yards. In 2016, Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech did the same.
During the 2012 season, Heinicke threw for 5,076 yards, which was an FCS record. He beat Alcorn State’s Steve McNair, who had thrown for 4,863 yards, to the top spot. In 2013, Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois came up 26 yards short of Heinicke’s record. In 2016, Eastern Washington’s Gage Gubrud broke the record with 5,160 yards.
But for Heinicke’s coach, numbers like 12 and 13 were more important. The first number is the number of come-from-behind wins Heinicke had at ODU, and the second number is the number of wins he had by one score. He ran for 22 more touchdowns and threw for 132. (he ran a 4.62 40-yard dash at his pro day).
Wilder said, “He was just used to winning.”
The visit of Scott Turner
Turner flew to Norfolk, Virginia, to meet with Heinicke when he was the quarterbacks coach for the Minnesota Vikings. This was right before the 2015 NFL draft. He was the only coach from the NFL to go on that trip. Turner worked out Heinicke, had him draw plays on the board, and talked about the game. That night, they went out to dinner.
Turner said, “I just wanted to watch him throw the ball and see how it left his hand.” “He has a good throw. His problem was that he is 6 feet tall and weighs 200 pounds.”
Heinicke weighed about 25 pounds more than he did in high school. He was a free agent, so Minnesota picked him up. He played for Turner for two years with the Vikings and another year with the Carolina Panthers.
Turner, who is in charge of Washington’s offense, likes that Heinicke knows his system and, as he showed last week, can run it as a backup when needed.
“He throws the ball at the right time. Turner said, “He has a nice touch.” “He’s very smart. When the lights came on, we liked how he played.”
He hurt himself when he broke into his own home.
Heinicke and a friend went to see the movie “The Conjuring 2” in 2016, about three weeks before the Vikings’ training camp started. When they came back to the house, it was locked and no one was there. Heinicke wasn’t carrying a key. So …
He told reporters that summer, “I’m trying to open the door a little bit.” “It was one of those doors with two sides. I thought it needed just a little push.” When I put my foot on the door, it kind of slipped and went through a window. It was just a strange thing that happened.”
Heinicke has fun
Jonathan Hayes, who was the coach of the St. Louis BattleHawks in the XFL, found out about this during the team’s first victory party in February. Heinicke didn’t play in any of St. Louis’s five games, but he loves to spray seltzer.
Hayes said, “Those guys would sneak up on me.” “That stuff is very hot. He would pop those things and laugh, which made everyone around him laugh too. He would get it started. I’d get sprayed. I wasn’t ready for it the first time. But he sprayed everybody…. Just being around him was a lot of fun.”
Hayes also liked that during offensive meetings, Heinicke would ask players about their jobs. Because he had been a pro before, he helped Jordan Ta’amu, the starting quarterback for the BattleHawks, in his first year as a pro.
Hayes said that it helped Taylor keep his mind on the game. “Even on game day, he would come up to me and say, ‘This is in his wheelhouse; this is what he does really well.'”
His father was a big part of his life.
In the fall of 2010, Wilder met Heinicke and his father, Brett. Wilder went to their Atlanta home on a Sunday afternoon. It was 4 p.m., and the Heinickes’ favorite team, the Green Bay Packers, was on TV.
“He makes brats from scratch, and we eat a lot of them while we watch the game,” Wilder said. “That’s when I knew that Taylor had everything she needed. Brett is one of my favorite dads of all time. Brett would bring in leftover brats after home games on Sundays, and the coaches would swarm around him like a pack of wolves. He was never bossy and never gave advice. Just a guy who helps a lot.”
In 2011, just before Christmas break, Brett had a heart attack and died.
Heinicke told the Virginian-Pilot in 2014, “I tried to be just like him. I looked up to him, I tried to be like him.” He also showed a tattoo of an angel reading the Bible on his left arm. This was a tribute to his father.
He told the Pilot, “I know he’s watching.” “I would do anything to get him back.”