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Mark Schlereth says Heinicke-led Commanders are playoff team

Scott Procter Scott Procter BVM Sports Senior Editor/Journalist

WASHINGTON (BVM) – Mark Schlereth is a three-time Super Bowl champion who knows good quarterback play when he sees it. He blocked for Mark Rypien in a Super Bowl XXVI win before protecting Hall of Fame QB John Elway en route to back-to-back Super Bowls from 1997-98.

It’s why the former Pro Bowler – who was drafted in the 10th round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins – isn’t the least bit surprised that his former team has found success after a quarterback change.

“Nick Saban used to say it all the time, a coaching staff doesn’t choose your quarterback, the team chooses the quarterback,” Schlereth said on a recent episode of BVM Sports’ Simple Question. “They (Commanders) have certainly chosen Taylor Heinicke as their guy.”

Carson Wentz was acquired by Washington in an offseason trade with the Indianapolis Colts but was placed on injured reserve after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured ring finger suffered during a 12-7 win over the Chicago Bears on Oct. 13. After scoring a combined 55 points in the first two weeks of the season, the Commanders’ offense struggled under Wentz, scoring 47 points over the next four games.

Since taking over as the starter, Heinicke has led Washington to wins in five of its last six games, including a Monday Night Football victory over the previously undefeated Philadelphia Eagles. Although Wentz holds the edge in completion percentage, passing yards and touchdown-to-interception ratio, Heinicke’s 5-1 record as a starter this season has resulted in head coach Ron Rivera sticking with the former undrafted free agent.

“The team has chosen Taylor Heinicke because in critical moments, he seems to step up and make critical plays,” Schlereth said. “He avoids sacks and he’s got a toughness that football players respect. I’m not saying that Carson doesn’t, but it just doesn’t resonate the same when Carson’s doing it compared to when Heinicke’s doing it.

“Guys will get up off the bench on the defensive side of the ball to watch him play.”

Heinicke has the Commanders (7-5) squarely in the thick of the NFC playoff picture as a divisional matchup with the New York Giants (7-4) awaits them on Sunday.