- The Washington Football Team has lost starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a hip injury suffered in the first half of Sunday’s season opening loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
- Fitzpatrick was placed on the injured reserve list and will be out at least three weeks. More tests will determine his timeframe to return.
- Taylor Heinicke will take over starting quarterback duties in Fitzpatrick’s absence.
Ron Rivera’s second year as head coach of the Washington Football Team isn’t getting off to a good start. In the preseason, he had to deal with a ridiculous number of ‘anti-vaxxers’ on his team refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Things got worse in the WFT regular season opener when Rivera lost his starting quarterback before the end of the first half. Starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick left the game following a huge hit from Chargers’ linebacker Uchenna Nwosu. The immediate diagnosis was that Fitzpatrick suffered a hip subluxation and he was done for the day as Taylor Heinicke took over at quarterback. There was some good news in that Fitzgerald didn’t suffer any broken bones or other apparent issues that would sideline him long term.
Fitzgerald had an MRI on Monday and will reportedly undergo more tests to further pinpoint the severity of the injury. He’s been placed on the injured reserve list which means that he’ll have to stay on the list for at least three weeks. The latest update on the timeframe for his return is ‘six to eight weeks’ with that word coming from a ‘source’s’ intel to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Assuming that reports of no breaks or similar severe injury are accurate that timeframe sounds realistic given the nature of Fitzgerald’s injury.
Taylor Heinicke will assume the top spot on the WFT quarterback depth chart with Fitzpatrick sidelined. Heinicke came on in relief on Sunday completing 11 of 15 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. His last NFL regular season start came on December 23, 2018 so there might be a ‘rust’ factor involved. Kyle Allen will serve as the WFT backup until further notice. In addition, the team added some more depth at quarterback on Monday with the signing of rookie Kyle Shurmur to the practice squad.
The Fitpatrick injury adds to the WFT’s multi-year trend of struggling to find a long term starting quarterback. Since Kirk Cousins started all 48 regular season games between 2015 and 2017 there has been the proverbial ‘revolving door’ at quarterback. In 2018, WFT employed four starting quarterbacks with Alex Smith, Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy and Mark Sanchez all getting their turn at some point in the season. In 2019, the team used three starting quarterbacks as McCoy, Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum split duties. In 2020, Haskins and Smith were joined by Kyle Allen as starting quarterbacks. You can add Ryan Fitzpatrick to that list of WFT starters as well. In case you’ve lost count that tallies up to eight different starting quarterbacks in just over three seasons of play.
WFT head coach Ron Rivera is nonplussed by the situation which he called ‘frustrating’, suggesting that it’s simply part of life in the National Football League:
“It’s the nature of the game. Unfortunately it’s happened more than it needs to have in the last season and a game. I hope we get a streak where we keep guys on the field for a long time and benefit from their abilities.”
“We like the guys we have; they’ve done good things for us. We’ll see what happens. I’m as confident as I could be.”
Even before the season started, the WFT had a tenuous situation at quarterback with Fitzpatrick starting and Allen playing backup. Fitzpatrick is a solid veteran but at age 37 he’s clearly not a long term solution. The team isn’t desperate for a marquee quarterback at this juncture with the strong rationale that until they put together a better lineup around him it’s premature. Once they’ve got more skill position players set on offense they’ll likely become more aggressive in their search for a ‘franchise quarterback’.
Washington will be back in action on Thursday, September 16 as they host the New York Giants. They’ll follow that up with a pair of road games at Buffalo on September 26 and at Atlanta on October 3.