Taylor Heinicke completed all 11 of his passes Saturday night against the Dallas Cowboys, but he wished he would have missed on one of them.
How is that possible that a quarterback that had a perfect completion percentage was actually hoping to be less than perfect? He explains.
“The funny thing is I actually would have had a better game if I was 10-for-11,” he said. “There was a screen (to Joe Banyard) there that I should have threw at the ground. There’s always room for improvement, but I think I actually had a pretty good game.”
Heinicke started his perfect night with a 7-yard pass to Banyard, who was released on Monday, on the first play of the third quarter. But later in that quarterback, Heinicke completed another pass to Banyard and the running back was dropped for a 7-yard loss.
Still, through four preseason games Heinicke has completed 30 of 41 passes for 237 yards. His 73.2 completion percentage is 25th in the league, with starter Teddy Bridgewater sixth at 82.9 percent. Bridgewater has completed 29 of 35 passes (highest number of attempts among the top seven in percentage) for 295 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
Backup Shaun Hill is also in the top 25 in completion percentage, checking in 24th at 73.5 percent.
“Norv’s offenses usually are quarterback-friendly. We had a good running game going on against Dallas, which really helps out the quarterback with protections,” Heinicke said. “A lot of things were clicking for us on Saturday. You see Teddy go out there and do what he does, and Shaun’s had a great preseason as well. I’m just trying to emulate what they do in practice and on the field. It’s been working out pretty well for me.
“It’s just running the offense, managing the offense. What I try to do is just play the playbook – every play there is something to beat. Whatever the defense does, there’s a way to beat it.”
Heinicke is a roster-bubble guy, but he said it gives him “a little bit of confidence” that he has a chance for the NO. 3 quarterback spot after Saturday’s performance. It doesn’t hurt that the person he’s battling for a roster spot, Mike Kafka, sat out of Monday’s practice with a reported hamstring injury.
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Heinicke’s focus this offseason and preseason has been what Bridgewater’s focus was last year when he took over starting duties – getting rid of the ball quickly.
But while Bridgewater was considered slightly undersized as a rookie playing at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and losing a few pounds during the season, Heinicke is shorter yet, listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, and the listed height may be giving him too much credit.
But he takes that in stride, trying to learn from the best undersized quarterbacks in the league.
“I watch Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. They’re in the same situation I am,” Heinicke said. “You look at Drew Brees on film, there’s a couple times where he’s literally lifting his head up to see over the line of scrimmage or is on his tippy-toes. I’m going to try to learn that. There’s a couple plays in previous games where there’s been a guy open and I haven’t seen him. That’s one thing I’ll work on.”
Heinicke also comes from a small school, Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va., and said he couldn’t wait to take his first NFL hit and complete his first NFL pass. Turns out, they came on the same play, when the nerves were flying for Hienicke in the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“At the end of the game, it’s football,” he said. “You’re playing football and it’s just guys that are bigger, faster, stronger, smarter. The game is a lot faster, so that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned jumping from college to the NFL. It’s getting the ball out of my hands and letting the receivers do their thing.”