If one thing was for certain after watching the Los Angeles Rams this season, it’s that they desperately need a quarterback behind Matthew Stafford. LA needs a legitimate NFL QB and an experienced one at that. Baker Mayfield proved himself as a capable starter once again but he’s doubtful to stay in Hollywood and warm the bench for Stafford.
Judging by the list of upcoming free agent signal callers, the Rams might end up getting that experience. They’re way out of the market for Tom Brady yet I would never say never. I hope everyone knows I was kidding there. Brady would trigger a tablet genocide on the sideline if he was named a benchwarmer.
Instead, the most realistic option the Rams should sign if he hits the market is Taylor Heinicke. The Commanders quarterback went 5-3-1 as a starter in Washington this season, completing 62% of his passes while tossing 12 touchdowns to six interceptions. He added a spark in the Nation’s Capital and put his team in playoff contention before that opportunity came and Wentz.
As the Eagles and 49ers battle to go to the Super Bowl, never forget:— DC Sports Buzz (@DCSportsBuzzz) January 23, 2023
Taylor Heinicke beat the undefeated Eagles on the road AND had the best QBR performance (83.3) by a QB not named Mahomes against the vaunted 49ers defense.
Too bad he couldn’t start against the Browns…
Heinicke has never been a gamechanger nor a model of consistency. However, when he’s stepped into action for Washington, it’s clear the team played far differently with him compared to Carson Wentz.
Carson Wentz 2022— StartSamRedwolfHowell (@Lennyfrigginleo) September 26, 2022
Salary: 28 Million
Weapons: McLaurin, Samuel, Dotson and Thomas.
Points at half in 3 starts: 14
Taylor Heinicke 2021
Salary: 2 Million
Weapons: McLaurin, Humphries, Dyami and Thomas.
Points at half in 3 starts: 41#HTTC pic.twitter.com/aOKWJy1beZ
Wentz was never going to be the answer in Washington. Thank goodness the Rams made the right choice back in the 2016 draft right? Right? Anyways, it’s not about Washington’s 12-11-1 record in Heinicke’s starts since ‘21 that matters. Quarterback wins are a misleading stat as TM had strong defensive play to ease the pressure off the offense he led on the field.
Fact is, Heinicke has performed well when it matters. I believe we all remember where we were when he unexpectedly started a playoff game in the 2020 postseason against the eventual Super Bowl champions, Tampa Bay. Okay, I don’t remember where I was but his remarkable performance took the spotlight off TB12 for a night.
Taylor Heinicke vs. Bucs— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) January 10, 2021
306 passing yards
46 rushing yards
25.8 fantasy points pic.twitter.com/hFeeLF2mes
Total yards against the Bucs D in the playoffs:— Gridiron (@Gridiron) February 9, 2021
Taylor Heinicke: 352
Aaron Rodgers: 346
Patrick Mahomes: 303
Drew Brees: 137 pic.twitter.com/AWbF9d3xEf
Taylor Heinicke is overall an average quarterback but he has the tendency to step up in the clutch. As I’ve mentioned, he’s not the most reliable guy in the first three quarters. Once the fourth quarter arrives, he decides to become the comeback king. Seriously, I couldn’t believe these stats when I saw them:
Taylor Heinicke in the final 4 minutes of 4th quarters this season is 17-of-22 for 223 yards (10.1 yards/attempt), a TD & no INTs & has a rushing TD. Has 2 4th-quarter comebacks in 2022 & 5 since start of 2021. We're all aware of his flaws. But he has been clutch. #Commanders— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) December 5, 2022
If there’s one notable flaw in his game, it’s turnovers that have been his biggest concern. In his 26 games played with Washington, Heinicke has 14 fumbles (six of them lost) while tossing 21 picks. During the Rams championship season, Matt had some company in the turnover department.
Most Turnovers,— Dustin Baker (@DustBaker) February 5, 2022
Among QBs Starting 15+ Games,
Trevor Lawrence (22)
Matthew Stafford (19)
Derek Carr (19)
Josh Allen (18)
Ryan Tannehill (18)
Patrick Mahomes (17)
Taylor Heinicke (17)
So if Stafford is forced to miss time and TM takes the reins, it’ll be like he never left! Again I hope everyone knows I’m (sorta) joking there. Either way, Heinicke would be a major upgrade over John Wolford and Bryce Perkins. He has plenty of NFL experience including a very brief playoff run. Taylor would stabilize a position of relative need for the Rams, assuming Mayfield plays elsewhere next season.
Watching the 49ers run to the NFC Championship with a couple backup QBs shows why the Rams need experience behind Stafford. The injury bug has not been kind to him in recent years. This season, Matt missed the final eight games with lingering head and neck issues. Two years prior to his first year in LA, Stafford also missed half the season due to injury.
For most of his career, the Rams’ QB1 has been quite durable. With age creeping up on him, it’s time Los Angeles gets some quality insurance at the game’s most vital position. Speaking of insurance, I wonder if Baker would be willing to share the name of his Progressive agent before he leaves town.
Quarterback obviously isn’t the only position of need for LA in what appears to be a crucial offseason for the team. The Rams have to sign a veteran if they hope to remain in contention should Stafford miss time. That is why Taylor Heinicke should be at the top of their free agent wish list once he’s available.