4 key Sam Howell observations at the Commanders' 2023 midseason point

Have the Commanders found their guy?

Sam Howell
Sam Howell / Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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Sam Howell's pocket awareness

There were times earlier in the season when Sam Howell looked like a rabbit in the headlights. The Washington Commanders' offensive line was nothing short of abysmal until head coach Ron Rivera finally made changes before Week 8, which had the signal-caller taking sacks at a historic rate and running for his life on almost every down.

Howell wasn't without blame, either. The signal-caller held onto the football for too long, failed to recognize pressure effectively, and had a hard time navigating the pocket with any conviction whether oncoming rushers reached the backfield or not.

Again, this isn't uncommon for an inexperienced quarterback. But there's been notable growth from Howell in this regard - especially over the last three weeks.

Some slight tweaks from a schematic standpoint came with Howell disturbing the football with greater consistency attached. It was all about play-caller Eric Bieniemy building up the quarterback gradually, which has increased confidence and poise in the pocket along the way.

Howell is benefitting from more stable protection following the introduction of Chris Paul and Tyler Larsen into the starting lineup. But he can go through progressions quickly and take what the defense gives him with far more efficiency than he managed to accomplish earlier in the campaign.

Another sign of the player's growth. Even if the Commanders are currently one game below .500 and two off the NFC wildcard spots.