Carson Wentz to Start vs. Browns; Commanders Bench Taylor Heinicke amid Playoff Hunt

Adam WellsDecember 28, 2022

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 24: Carson Wentz #11 of the Washington Commanders warms up prior to a game against the San Francisco 49ers 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 replacing Taylor Heinicke in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Carson Wentz will start for the Washington Commanders as they make a push for the postseason.

Head coach Ron Rivera announced Wednesday that Wentz will be the No. 1 quarterback in Week 17's game against the Cleveland Browns at FedEx Field.

There were rumblings going into the 49ers game that Rivera was considering a quarterback change.

"The biggest thing is sticking with Taylor and with what we're trying to establish," Rivera told reporters Dec. 19. "[But] it is something, to be quite frank, that I do have to think about at some point. But if we can play the way we've played and do the things we've done, then we'll stick where we are."

Heinicke took over as Washington's starter in Week 7 after Wentz was placed on injured reserve with a broken finger. He led the team to a 5-1 record in his first six starts.

Even when Wentz was activated off IR on Dec. 12, Rivera elected to stay with Heinicke because the team was playing well.

The Commanders are winless in their last three games with Heinicke starting. Their only non-loss during that stretch was a 20-20 tie against the New York Giants in Week 13. The offense hasn't scored more than 23 points in the past five games.

After Heinicke committed turnovers on consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter against San Francisco, Wentz took over for the rest of the game. He fared well in limited duty, completing 12 of 16 attempts for 123 yards and one touchdown.

The urgency level is high for the Commanders going into Week 17. They still own the final playoff spot in the NFC with a 7-7-1 record. They can clinch a playoff spot this weekend with a win and losses by the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions and a loss or tie by the Green Bay Packers.

Wentz is completing 62.9 percent of his attempts for 1,612 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions in seven games. Washington is 2-4 in his six starts this season.