Sam Howell's development
With the Washington Commanders going nowhere fast this season, their biggest remaining objective centers around Sam Howell's development. The quarterback has progressed well despite working behind a porous offensive line, but finishing the campaign strongly is of paramount importance in the pursuit of being under center in 2024.
That's for the new head coach and general manager to decide, one suspects. But Howell's progression over the next five weeks could be another reason why majority ownership partner Josh Harris has kept head coach Ron Rivera at the helm.
If he'd gone the other way and fired Rivera, Eric Bieneimy would likely have been promoted to interim head coach. While this is something the respected offensive mind has craved for years, increased responsibilities could mean he's forced to spend less time working with Howell to focus on other areas of the team.
The Commanders still have quarterbacks coach Tavita Pritchard, who's done a tremendous job since arriving earlier this year. But there's no substitute for experience and Howell's been nothing but complimentary about Bienemy bringing the best out in him this season.
Upsetting the apple cart at this late stage could be detrimental to Howell's long-term hopes. It makes sense to build around the former fifth-round pick, but all bets are off if the Commanders end up with a top-three selection in the 2024 NFL Draft.