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Ron Rivera Undecided on Carson Wentz, Taylor Heinicke as Commanders' QB in Week 17

Doric SamDecember 27, 2022

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 18: Washington Commanders backup quarterback Carson Wentz (11) gives quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) a pat on the head as he watches the replay of their final play during their loss to the New York Giants during the game at FedEx Field on December 18, 2022. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

After benching quarterback Taylor Heinicke in favor of Carson Wentz in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera has to decide who will start against the Cleveland Browns in Week 17.

However, Rivera told reporters Tuesday that he still has not settled on who will be under center when the Commanders take the field on New Year's Day.

"Well, I just want to make sure I have an opportunity to speak to everybody before I make a decision," Rivera said, per Pro Football Talk's Myles Simmons. "I want to make sure I've got all the thoughts and ideas and concepts. Again, at the end of the day, the decision's going to be made based on what I believe is best for us going forward, gives us the best opportunity right now. That's what this is really about."

Seeing his first game action since Oct. 13, Wentz played the final two series of Washington's 37-20 loss and threw for 123 yards and a touchdown on 12-of-16 passing. He had been forced to sit out since Week 7 after undergoing surgery for a broken finger, but his starting job wasn't waiting for him when he recovered.

During Wentz's absence, Heinicke earned the trust of his teammates and the coaching staff to continue on as the Commanders starter. However, Heinicke struggled against San Francisco, throwing an interception and losing a fumble in the fourth quarter. It was his fifth fumble on the season and fourth one lost in his last three games.

Rivera has not lost confidence in the 29-year-old, but he acknowledged that Wentz performed well enough to warrant some consideration.

"I thought Taylor did some really good things. There were some opportunities, I think, that we could've taken advantage of as well," Rivera said. "I thought Carson coming in and not having played in a while, he was a little rusty at first. And then he started to sharpen up. He showed he made quick decisions. So, that was good to see. It was. There are still some things he can continue to work on and improve as well."

The Commanders (7-7-1) are clinging to the last playoff spot in the NFC, so it's imperative that Rivera makes the right decision to give the team the best chance to take down the Browns (6-9) on Sunday.