Sam Howell never really had a chance to make the grade as QB1 for the Washington Commanders. The blame belongs firmly to Ron Rivera and his staff.
Ron Rivera's already admitted he put too much on Sam Howell too soon. That's true, but there's a certain amount of irony at play here.
Howell wasn't ready to be the franchise savior as a de facto rookie in 2023. Yet, it's also true he would have fared better had Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy called a scheme that not only took greater advantage of his dual-threat skills but also gave him some easier reads and quicker throws.
Bieniemy's faults will be put under the microscope later. First, here's how Rivera got it wrong as art of three reasons why the Commanders failed Howell in 2023.
Ron Rivera's gamble became a burden for Sam Howell
Credit to Ron Rivera for being frank about asking too much of Sam Howell. In his words, the recently fired head coach "took a big gamble. I put a lot on Sam, and I probably shouldn't have put as much pressure on him."
That's what the 62-year-old told ESPN's John Keim. While Rivera's honesty is refreshing, 910 The Fan Richmond's Michael Phillips pointed out how the Green Bay Packers didn't mind putting similar pressure on Jordan Love.
Like Howell, Love took the reins as a starting quarterback this season, despite being a virtual rookie. He'd made just one start before being promoted, the same as the former fifth-round pick was getting the nod from Rivera after starting against the Dallas Cowboys in the finale of the 2022 campaign.
The difference is how the Packers made things easier for Love through the scheme implemented by Matt LaFleur. Eric Bieniemy didn't make the same effort to play to Howell's strengths.