What are some lingering observations as the dust firmly sets on the Washington Commanders' loss against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3?
There's no doubt what Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills represented for the Washington Commanders. Ron Rivera's men were given the harshest reality check imaginable from a potential Super Bowl challenger, who carved up his team on both sides of the football to bring the franchise crashing back down to earth.
It's only one game and there's a lot of football left. But the Commanders have to buck their ideas up to stand any chance of making their presence felt when it's time to decide which NFC teams will go into the postseason.
Things don't get much easier for the Commanders this weekend when they visit the Philadelphia Eagles. However, they won at the same venue last season, and providing lessons are learned by everyone across the franchise, they stand a decent chance of holding their own against the defending conference champions, at the very least.
Before we look ahead, here are three lingering observations from Washington's defeat versus the Bills in Week 3.
Commanders must get more from Sam Howell
Sam Howell and the Washington Commanders' offense started slowly during the first two games and had to mount comebacks to win both contests. Week 3 was a different task, playing a Buffalo Bills outfit that is Super Bowl caliber.
The Commanders needed to get off to a fast start. Through three games, Howell has been sacked 19 times, along with nine by the Bills' defense. Not exactly a recipe for success and resulted in another torrid opening.
This time, there were no late heroics.
Some of it is on Howell for holding on to the ball for too long and forcing it instead of checking down and taking what the defense gives him. Not only was he sacked nine times, but he also threw four interceptions and posted a passing rating of 41.5.
Entering the game, Howell had a 95.0 passer rating and 501 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. While owning three victories from his professional starts to date, he was always fighting a losing battle in this one.
Howell brought the team into the red zone twice before going for it on fourth down and turning it over. This is truly a learning curve - these types of games will come, but how you handle them going forward is the question.
Many in the Commanders community know Howell doesn't get too high or too low. He'll need that mindset to continue at the Philadelphia Eagles.