The Washington Commanders are starting a new era, and they’re doing it with a new man under center.
Sam Howell will be the starting quarterback for the “Dan Snyder free since 2023” Commanders, the team announced on Friday.
Head coach Ron Rivera discussed Howell on Friday morning, saying definitively “Sam’s our guy.”
This isn’t a huge surprise. Howell was competing against veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett for the job, and it wasn’t much of a competition. Howell took the vast majority of first-team reps during training camp, signaling it was his job to lose, while Brissett, with his fourth team in four years, got only a small amount of time with the first-team.
Rivera recently praised Howell’s decision-making, and according to ESPN’s John Keim, the Commanders as a whole like a lot of things about his game.
The Commanders liked his decisiveness — particularly when working through progressions and spotting an open target — and his improved footwork, on both pass drops and handoffs. They like his decision making. They say other aspects of his game, such as becoming more efficient in the red zone, can be developed with more experience.
Where the Commanders are now — energetically going forward with a 22-year-old second-year QB — is a far cry from where they were a year ago. Prior to the 2022 season, the Commanders traded for Carson Wentz of the Indianapolis Colts, hoping that the stumbling quarterback could rediscover himself with yet a new team. It did not work out that way, and by midseason Taylor Heinicke had taken over. Since then, Heinicke departed in free agency and the team cut Wentz, who still doesn’t have an NFL job as the 2023 season approaches.
Howell, drafted by Washington in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, started one game for the Commanders during the 2022 season, their 26-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17. Now in 2023, he’ll get the chance to start all 17 games.