Even though it's widely assumed that Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the Washington Football Team's starting quarterback when the regular season begins, head coach Ron Rivera is apparently keeping the competition open.
Speaking to reporters Saturday, Rivera explained why he hasn't named Fitzpatrick the starter:
"We don’t play for 21 days. Whenever it's time to say it, I'll say it. Whenever we got to put out the first depth chart, you guys will see. Right now, that's not the important thing. The important thing is we continue to work and prepare and get ready and everybody competes. Whether it's you know, fait accompli or not, I just think, you know, we, we get caught up right now on something that's not as important as practicing, developing, learning and doing things the right way."
Rivera's comments were a bit unusual since Fitzpatrick has started both of Washington's preseason games, including Friday's 17-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Since the preseason has been shortened from four games to three, it seems likely Rivera would want to get Taylor Heinicke or Steven Montez reps with the first team if there were a competition.
Heinicke played well against the Bengals in relief of Fitzpatrick. He finished 11-of-13 for 80 yards and added 26 yards on four carries.
Washington's playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January marked a breakout moment for Heinicke. The 28-year-old threw for 306 yards, ran for 46 yards and accounted for two touchdowns in his only start of the 2020 season.
Heinicke's dual-threat ability presents more challenges for opposing defenses, but his limited experience in the NFL makes him an unknown commodity.
Fitzpatrick, for all his flaws, has a long track record of stabilizing volatile quarterback situations. He threw for 3,529 yards in 2019 and completed a career-high 68.5 percent of his passes last season with the Miami Dolphins.
Washington has one more preseason game Aug. 28 against the Baltimore Ravens. Rivera could very well wait until after that to name a starting quarterback.