Another team in playoff contention will play this weekend down both its starting and backup quarterbacks.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Washington has placed Taylor Heinicke on the COVID-19 list. Kyle Allen was placed on the list earlier in the week. The team signed Garrett Gilbert off New England’s practice squad, Schefter reported.
NFL COVID-19 tracker: Updated team-by-team list of players in protocol for Week 15
The placement of Heinicke and Allen on the COVID list is a major blow to the team, as it will push the team’s total of players on the COVID list above 20. Including Heinicke, there are 12 starters that will be unavailable for Sunday’s game against the Eagles.
What does this latest add mean for Washington amidst its playoff chase? Sporting News breaks it down.
What does Heinicke’s, Allen’s absence mean for Washington?
It goes without saying that a team losing its starting quarterback is a major blow. Heinicke has found success in a starting role with Washington this season, guiding them to a 6-6 record in his starts with a 66.5 completion percentage, 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions with 2,931 passing yards. He’s also rushed 55 times for 297 yards and a score.
Now, not only will he be unable to play, but it looks unlikely that his backup will be able to suit up either.
As things stand on Friday, Washington, at 6-7, currently occupies the seventh playoff spot in the NFC. Sunday’s game could go a long way toward deciding who claims that final spot, however, as four other teams have a 6-7 record, including the Eagles, whom Washington plays.
With Heinicke unable to suit up on Sunday given the timing of his placement, Washington is down to only a handful of options. Allen could potentially test out of the list prior to the game, which would be the ideal situation for Washington. Otherwise, the starter will be either Gilbert, Kyle Shurmur or Jordan Ta’amu, according to Schefter. The team is not expected to make a decision until Sunday.
Gilbert has only started one game in his NFL career, starting for Dallas on Nov. 8, 2020, against the Steelers. Gilbert completed 55.3 percent of his passes with 243 yards, a touchdown and an interception in a 24-19 loss. Neither Shurmur nor Ta’amu have appeared in an NFL game.
Not having an experienced QB under center will undoubtedly hurt Washington. The Eagles come into the game having allowed the 23rd-fewest passing yards to opposing teams in the NFL this season at just 2,952.
Just how high are the stakes for the playoff race? Very high. FiveThirtyEight gives Washington just a 27 percent chance of reaching the playoffs as things stand on Friday, and it has the Eagles at 37 percent. An Eagles’ win moves them up to a 50 percent chance to reach the playoffs and drops Washington to 13 percent. A Washington win gives the Football Team a 55 percent chance to reach the playoffs and puts the Eagles at just 10 percent.
According to Tankathon, Philadelphia and Washington are each sitting tied with the 18th-hardest remaining schedule by opposing win percentage. Philadelphia plays Washington, the Giants, Washington and the Cowboys to end the year. Washington plays the Eagles, Cowboys, Eagles and Giants to end the campaign.
NFL teams have been hit hard by COVID-19 this week, with the league recording the most positive tests in a single day back on Monday with 37, according to Schefter.
Washington, in particular, has lost a number of players, as it and the Browns are the only two teams with at least 20 players on the COVID list.
The Football Team has seen five of its six top defensive linemen placed on the list. Jonathan Allen, James Smith-Williams, Casey Toohill, Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle are all on the list and aren’t expected to play.
The latest additions to the list, however, have decimated Washington’s offense. Along with Heinicke and Allen, both starting center Tyler Larsen and backup Keith Ismael were added to the list, joining starting right tackle Cornelius Lucas there.
However, the Eagles have just wide receiver Quez Watkins and running back Jason Huntley on the COVID list.
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