Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera was asked Monday who he would start at quarterback for the regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. Rivera said he hadn’t decided yet and wanted to speak with his coaching staff on Monday before making an announcement.
“Well, it’s the same as all the other positions,” Rivera said. “We’re going to continue to evaluate and look at things. I mean, guys, I’m not going to tell you anything about what we’re gonna do until it’s time, just so you guys know that. I’m meeting with the coaches later today, and we’ll discuss all those things as a group, and then we’ll make a decision. I’ll make a decision when it’s time and appropriate.”
What Rivera is saying here is, “I don’t have to tell you guys yet, so I am not going to.” And he’s right. Much like last week, there is little benefit to announcing your starting quarterback on Monday. You should probably expect an announcement sometime Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.
He didn’t say it, but it won’t be Carson Wentz. How could it be? That leaves Rivera with two options: Returning to Taylor Heinicke or starting rookie Sam Howell.
This shouldn’t be up for debate. Howell should be the choice, and that’s not meant as disrespect for Heinicke. The Commanders know what they have in Heinicke, good and bad. You are eliminated from the playoffs, playing a team with everything to play for, making this a perfect evaluation opportunity for the rookie passer from North Carolina.
Look, this is only one game, meaning if Howell plays outstanding or not so good, you can’t come away with any defining realization about his future. But it is an opportunity to see if he is ready to compete with a veteran next season.
If you are in Washington’s shoes, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Starting Howell doesn’t mean you are tanking and quitting on your veteran players. For all anyone knows, it could be Washington’s best chance to beat the Cowboys.
If Rivera goes with Heinicke, it would be another questionable quarterback decision in his three-year tenure.