Sam Howell's third-down woes
It was a stuttering afternoon for the offense overall. A few nice moments emerged now and again, but they were fleeting thanks in no small part to the team's woes on third down.
Sam Howell and the entire Commanders offense just couldn't seem to sustain drives more often than not. Eric Bieniemy's play-calling and the offensive line had a lot to do with their failings, but Howell must also be held accountable for his lack of conviction in difficult circumstances.
As previously stated, it's hard to do anything behind a line this terrible. Howell wasn't put in many manageable situations, but making plays when the odds are stacked is what separates the elite quarterbacks from the also-rans.
It wasn't until the final play of the third quarter that Howell completed a third-down, which was a beautiful deep ball to wide receiver Terry McLaurin. The Commanders eventually finished with a 1-for-15 success rate, which simply isn't good enough.
Nobody is placing the blame squarely on Howell. But it's hard to look at this key statistic and not think the signal-caller should have done a better job of finding the right read, even if time in the pocket was a serious issue.
The game film will not make for pleasant viewing. And in a clash that was inexplicably decided by fine margins, not getting the job done on third down was a big difference-maker.