Quarterback Taylor Heinicke is named as Washington’s biggest X-Factor in 2021

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Just one year ago at this time, Taylor Heinicke was out of football. He had spent the early part of 2020 with the XFL’s St. Louis BattleHawks before the league suspended operations and was back working on completing his engineering degree at Old Dominion University.

Then the Washington Football Team called.

Heinicke was signed to the practice squad in December before being activated to the main roster later that month. He would see action late in Washington’s loss to Carolina.

However, it was in the WFT’s wild-card loss to Tampa Bay where Heinicke would prove he belonged in the NFL. Pressed into starting duty for the hobbled Alex Smith, Heinicke gave Washington its best quarterback performance last season almost led the Football Team to the upset.

In February, he was awarded a two-year contract.

In March, Washington signed veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

While it is expected Fitzpatrick will start for the WFT in 2021, don’t discount Heinicke. Head coach Ron Rivera said last week there would be a competition at quarterback in training camp.

So, it’s not exactly a surprise that some believe Heinicke will see the field in 2021. Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report recently took a look at the X-Factor for all 32 NFL teams in 2021. Heinicke was his choice for Washington.

That’s right, the X-factor for the Washington Football Team this season is a presumed backup quarterback.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is likely to be the Week 1 starter, but the WFT’s ceiling is pretty obvious with him under center. The experienced journeyman is solid in a pinch, but we have plenty of proof that he won’t carry anybody to a Super Bowl.

In 16 NFL seasons, Fitzpatrick has never started a playoff game. He’s inconsistent, and his impact has always been limited. That will almost certainly be the case again in his age-39 season.

That’s why Washington desperately needs Heinicke to win this job, either this summer or some time in the fall before it’s too late. The 28-year-old doesn’t have much experience or pedigree, but he looked impressive in Washington’s playoff loss to the Bucs in January. There might be something there, and if that’s the case and he can take the league by storm in 2021, a defensively stacked Washington team could be legit.

Everything Gagnon said is true. Fitzpatrick’s history is well-documented. There is optimism for him in this offense and with this roster, but we know who he is in 16 years as an NFL quarterback.

Heinicke showed tremendous potential in the playoff loss to the Buccaneers. His biggest issue is staying healthy. He added 15 pounds of muscle this offseason in his bid to win the starting quarterback job at some point in 2021.

Expect another quarterback controversy for Washington at some point in 2021.