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Ron Rivera Hasn't Decided on Taylor Heinicke, Carson Wentz as Commanders Starting QB

Doric SamDecember 25, 2022

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 24: Head coach Ron Rivera of the Washington Commanders looks on against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of the game at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

After Saturday's loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Washington Commanders are facing questions at the quarterback position.

Head coach Ron Rivera made the move to bench Taylor Heinicke in favor of Carson Wentz in the fourth quarter, but he told reporters after the game that he won't decide who will start next Sunday's matchup against the Cleveland Browns until early in the week.

Wentz played the final two series of Washington's 37-20 loss. He completed 12 of his 16 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown in his first game action since Oct. 13.

The 29-year-old had initially been forced to miss time after undergoing surgery for a broken finger, but Heinicke won over the coaching staff and players in his absence, allowing him to maintain the starting role.

On Saturday, Heinicke was ineffective against San Francisco's vaunted defense. He recorded 166 yards and two touchdowns, but he also lost a fumble and threw an interception in the fourth quarter. Despite Heinicke's struggles, Rivera looked at the bright side and pointed out that the team got the chance to evaluate Wentz.

"It was an opportunity for us to see where Carson was, and he did a nice job," Rivera said after the game. "We're in a pretty good situation now."

Rivera added that the decision for next week's starter will be determined after he discusses the situation with his offensive staff. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner said the team wouldn't make a "knee-jerk decision."

The Commanders acquired Wentz this offseason in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts. He failed to impress even when he was healthy, but there's a chance he'll get to put forth a better showing over the final two weeks of the season.

"We're all competitors. I won't sugarcoat it, we all want to be out there," Wentz said. "If we lose that in this position, we'll be out of it real quick. So it would mean a lot [to start], but that's out of our control. We'll both prepare and work our tails off, and nothing will change because of the circumstances. Whatever happens, happens."