Commanders QB Sam Howell's regression
This team had one primary mission this season. Overperforming expectations and making the playoffs would have been nice, but realistically, 2023 was always going to be about Sam Howell. He was to play an entire season under a creative offensive play-caller. We were going to see very clearly whether he could be the Washington Commanders quarterback moving forward.
After the New York Jets game, Howell’s situation is murkier than ever. Early in the season, the signal-caller made mistakes but also made plays. He brought the team back multiple times in the second half. Even if those games ended up as losses, he acquitted himself quite well. It didn’t guarantee anything, but it certainly looked as if the former fifth-round pick could be a quality NFL starter.
About a month ago, the wheels began coming off the wagon.
Howell has not played well for a long time now. I was never alarmed, even after he was benched against the Los Angeles Rams last week. But now this has happened two weeks in a row. Against a quality Jets defense, he was entirely ineffective.
Part of his misery can be pinned on poor play by teammates (more on that soon), but there is no denying that this entire offense has looked very different with Jacoby Brissett under center. We can write off the Rams game as a fluke. Two weeks in a row - with an even bigger discrepancy in production - cannot be so easily ignored.
I think Washington was going to take a quarterback in the draft this year even before Howell’s recent downturn. It was just a question of how aggressive they were going to be. Now, I think the odds are they will pick a prospect in the first round. But that isn’t my big disappointment from this game.
My big disappointment is that I still don’t know what to make of Howell. Will he ever be able to build on the swashbuckling style that made him so appealing earlier this season? Or has he peaked? Is what we saw against the Jets merely a regression to his norm?
I don’t know. And that in and of itself is very troubling.