Sam Howell draws high praise from NFL writers after electric preseason debut
By Jerry Trotta
Sam Howell is currently all the rage amongst Washington Commanders fans after his sensational preseason debut Saturday against Carolina.
If not for the rookie fifth-round pick, Washington would’ve got its doors blown off in front of a raucous FedEx Field crowd. Thanks to Howell, though, the Commanders overcame a 20-6 deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter before the Panthers ultimately won thanks to a 45-yard field goal in the final minute.
Simply put, Washington’s offense couldn’t muster much of anything before Howell relieved Taylor Heinicke. The North Carolina product showed poise in the pocket and created chaos for Carolina’s defense with his scrambling ability.
Howell’s dual-threat ability actually surprised some of his teammates, as the coaching staff has restricted him to a passing role in training camp while he learns the playbook and refines the rough edges of his passing game.
For the game, Howell finished 9-of-16 for 145 yards (9.1 yards per attempt and a 86.7 passer rating) to go with 19 rushing yards and two rushing scores. He was one of the NFL’s most impressive performers from Week 1 and has received high praise from multiple outlets in the days since.
First up, CBS Sports writer Tyler Sullivan dubbed the exciting rookie as one of his “winners’ from the first week of preseason.
Commanders QB Sam Howell’s outstanding preseason debut didn’t go unnoticed by NFL writers and pundits.
"“Day 3 pick Sam Howell flashed his potential of being a future option for the Commanders as he nearly led Washington to a comeback win over the Panthers,” Sullivan wrote. “After Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke got some work, Howell came in and threw for more yards (145) than both of them combined. He also showed his rushing ability that was on display during his days at UNC, scampering in for two scores.”"
Fellow CBS writer Jeff Kerr had similar praise for Howell, saying he showed “flashes why he was considered a top-10 pick a year ago at this time.” It didn’t help Howell’s case that several other rookie quarterbacks — including Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis and Desmond Ridder– all performed well, but none of them staged a fourth quarter comeback with their team down two scores.
Howell placed fifth on Kerr’s ranking of rookie QB debuts and added the former Tar Heel could “seize the backup role” if he continues to perform well. The biggest takeaway from Kerr’s snippet on Howell was his closing sentence
“The Commanders can afford to be patient with Howell, as he’s lined up to be a future starter down the line if Wentz struggles in 2022.”
On top of CBS, the “Good Morning Football” crew, specifically co-host Kyle Brandt, picked Howell as one of the quarterbacks who turned heads in Week 1. The clip isn’t on YouTube or Twitter (yet), but can be found behind this link.
Like Kerr said, Washington can afford to be patient with Howell and let him develop while Wentz runs the offense this season. It’s unclear what Howell’s ceiling is as an NFL quarterback, but Commanders fans are collectively bullish on his future (maybe as a starter) if the Wentz experiment doesn’t pan out.
Whatever happens, Howell’s stock is on the rise after Week 1.