Commanders QB Carson Wentz loses starting job, will backup Taylor Heinicke once healthy

The Washington Commanders are doing their part to contribute to the quarterback drama that has been dominating this NFL season.

Carson Wentz, at least for now, has lost his job as starting quarterback to Taylor Heinicke — who led the Commanders to a dominant 23-10 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon. Heinicke has been starting in Wentz's place for the last five games due to Wentz's fractured finger.

Heinicke has impressed since he took over for Wentz, winning four of the Commanders' last five games. And one of those games was a doozy. In Week 10, they handed the previously undefeated Philadelphia Eagles their first loss of the season 32-21 on Monday night.

He went 15-of-27 for 191 yards against the Texans.

"It means a lot. I've worked so hard for this opportunity," Heinicke said after the win on Fox. "It's a dream come true. Every week I just approach it like it's my last week playing, and just try to have fun with it ... I've been dreaming of this my whole life, so to kind of see it come full circle with the last two or three years with what I've been through, it's a blessing. I just want to keep working hard and keep this thing rolling."

This isn't necessarily an unexpected move due to Heinicke's performance, but it's still surprising.

After Heinicke went 7-8 last season as Washington's starter, the Commanders traded for Wentz. They didn't send a boatload back to the Indianapolis Colts for him — a second-round draft pick and two third-round picks — but he was acquired to be the starter. Plus, the Commanders are on the hook for his 2022 salary.

But the momentum Heinicke has brought to the team is undeniable. They feel like Heinicke gives the Commanders the best chance to win.

There's a bit of a contract incentive for Washington to keep Heinicke in there, too. If Wentz plays at least 70% of the Commanders' offensive snaps this season, the Colts have to send a second-round pick to Indianapolis. If he's below that mark, they'll send a third-round pick. While this isn't enough of a reason to base a starting job on, it could easily be a factor.

It will be at least another week before Wentz is officially the backup, as he's still on injured reserve. But according to Pelissero, Heinicke has a long leash, and will remain the starter until he gives Washington a reason to make a change.

Commanders QB Carson Wentz
Commanders QB Carson Wentz has been demoted to backup, and Taylor Heinicke will remain the starter for the rest of the season. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)