The Washington Commanders seem to be in a state of perpetual rebuild, and while that might not be very fun for fans of the team, it’s definitely offering an opportunity for quarterback Sam Howell.
Howell entered the league in the 2022 NFL Draft as a fifth-round pick, and it now looks like he may get a chance to begin the 2023 regular season as Washington’s starting quarterback. A lot can change before the 2023 season arrives, but Howell seems to be in good shape right now for the starting job.
He seems really excited about the opportunity and knows the hardest work is ahead of him.
“I’m super grateful to coach [Ron] Rivera for giving me that opportunity, but really the work starts now,” Howell said. “I’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity that I do have and do everything I can to try and give this team a chance to win every single game that we play. And so really the process doesn’t change, I’ve always tried to get better, but now with this opportunity, I’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Howell started in just one game in the 2022 season, a Week 18 matchup against the playoff-bound Dallas Cowboys. In that game, Howell looked solid, hitting 11 of his 19 passes for 169 yards and one score. He led his team to a 26-6 win.
Earlier this month, Rivera made it clear that Howell is the team’s top quarterback going into offseason workouts.
“Going in, [Howell will] start as the No. 1, but it’s something he has to continue to earn and show us he deserves to be that guy,” said Rivera.
When quarterbacks of Howell’s caliber are moved into starting roles, it is often because their teams don’t yet have the pieces in place to find a new quarterback of the future.
The Commanders, who will select with the No. 16 overall pick in the upcoming draft, likely won’t be able to snag one of the premier prospects at that position this season. So, the plan may be to wait until the 2024 draft or beyond.
With that in mind, Howell could end up proving that he has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback, though the odds are not likely in his favor.
While the Commanders finished last in their division in the 2022 season, it’s not as though they’re one of the league’s worst teams. They have some talented pieces on both sides of the ball and could be just a few players away from being real playoff threats.
They finished 8-8-1 this past season and were the only NFC East team not to advance to the playoffs.