Although Taylor Heinicke is now his starting quarterback after an injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ron Rivera is still evaluating Heinicke, watching film for signs of growth and maturity as a passer.
At 28, one of the reasons Heinicke's had few opportunities in the NFL is due, in part, to the injuries he's sustained in his limited playing time up to this point. That's an area where, when Heinicke came off the bench for Fitzpatrick last Sunday against the Chargers, Rivera saw growth.
"Taylor's done a nice job, and the thing everyone has got to understand is Taylor has to learn to play so that he doesn't get hurt, and that's one of the things we saw the other day," Rivera told The Sports Junkies during his weekly Tuesday appearance on 106.7 The Fan.
After all, Washington is but an injury away from going to its third starting quarterback this season, Kyle Allen, and it's only Week 2.
"If you watch the [game], he made the decisions to run and get it out of bounds, decisions to get down, decisions to throw the ball away," Rivera said. "Those are all maturity things that he's learning, he's understanding, and if he can do that and we protect him, give him an opportunity to throw the ball, he's a pretty dynamic player, which we've seen.
"And again, I hear the things about him getting hurt, but you know what guys? We'll take our chances. We'll see what happens."
Regarding Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rivera said, "I feel bad for him because he's a heck of a young man, first of all. The dude works hard. The guy's got a wealth of knowledge and experience. And this is kind of new to him. He's never had to really deal with something like this. This is a guy who does things the right way. He's a team player. He's helped us grow, he's helped our players grow."
"You know that throw that Taylor made to Logan for the touchdown," Rivera continued, "that was something he picked up watching the way Fitz does things. And I'm being serious, because that was a little bit of a back shoulder and into the end zone, you know, where Taylor might have tried to lead him a little bit more. I think Taylor learned in watching Fitz and the way he practices that, 'Hey, I have an opportunity to throw a back shoulder,' and that's what he did."
"So again, that's why guys like Fitz are invaluable, because they have that kind of experience, they have that kind of knowledge," Rivera said. "And again, we weren't asking Fitz to come in here and rack up 100 points a game. When he came here, we asked him to manage the game and make plays when we needed to have them made."
"I think that's the kind of thing that we've got to understand," he said, "is we know what we have in terms of our players, and what we're going to try and get them to do is play to the best of that ability and give us a chance to w