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Ron Rivera sticks with Taylor Heinicke after back-to-back rough outings, says it's part of the learning process
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Ron Rivera sticks with Taylor Heinicke after back-to-back rough outings, says it's part of the learning process

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Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera said he’s sticking with quarterback Taylor Heinicke after a pair of rough games, instead of moving to backup Kyle Allen.

Heinicke won over the fan base with a thrilling mix of elusiveness and playmaking, but during the past two weeks, he’s struggled to make the correct read, and limitations on his arm strength have been apparent.

Rivera said it’s all part of the learning curve for Heinicke, who is balancing playing his dynamic style with avoiding the injuries that can happen when taking hits at the NFL level.

“That’s something we have to sit down and talk with Taylor about, you know, is he trying too much to stay in the pocket, too much to go through the progressions instead of being a little creative at times,” Rivera said. “It is part of his game, and believe me, we don’t want to take that away from who he is.

“He’s an exciting, dynamic player who has done things with his legs. But one thing we don’t want is we don’t want him to take the shots he has taken in the past.”

Against the Kansas City defense, which entered the game ranked last in the league, Washington did not score any second-half points.

Rivera noted that Heinicke will need to improve his decision-making, citing the play that happened before a missed field goal attempt that started the Chiefs’ rally.

With Washington facing third-and-2 from the Chiefs’ 20-yard line, Heinicke threw a pass that went for a 4-yard loss, taking the team from a potential go-for-it situation into a field goal.

“If you look at that one, it was a zero blitz, they were bringing pressure and it was getting to the quarterback very quickly,” Rivera said. “Taylor tried to force it out there.

“He actually went through the fake before he tried to throw it out. A little more experience might tell you that if you see the true zero coverage, you don’t have to fake, just turn and throw the ball outside to [Adam Humphries] and see if we can get the first down from there.”

Heinicke was also hurt by the team not connecting on many of its deep passes — he went 2 for 11 on throws 20 or more yards downfield.

The quarterback was even keel in his postgame press conference on Sunday.

“There’s no panic,” he said. “It’s a long season. It’s about to be Week 7. There’s still a lot of football left.

“There are a lot of guys [ticked] off, rightfully so. But hopefully, we can just use that fuel for this week and get ready for Green Bay. It’s going to be another tough game. But the guys aren’t getting down. We’re [ticked] off and we want to come back next week and get it going.”

mphillips@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6546

Twitter: @michaelpRTD

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