Sam Howell's mistake
I want to point out something about Sam Howell. Please, believe me, this is not meant to be a knock on him.
Howell was courageous as hell while getting minimal help from the rest of his team. He took shots and kept slinging the ball and running as best he could. But his pick-six throw - which put the Washington Commanders in a hole they would never climb out of - points out a problem.
It was especially obvious because of what Tua Tagovailoa made just two plays before.
On that play, the Miami Dolphins were pinned deep in their territory and faced a third and 17. They were going to throw a little screen to Tyreek Hill and see what the extraordinary wide receiver could manage. But Commanders defensive end Casey Toohill read the play and dropped into the passing lane.
Tagovailoa saw this and did not throw the ball. He waited for Hill to get enough separation to complete the throw. Toohill’s pay and the quarterback's hesitation allowed Washington’s interior defenders to swarm the wideout and he lost a bunch of yards, leading to a Miami punt.
But - notice what Tagovailoa did not do. He did not force the throw to a covered receiver in a precarious spot on the field.
Had he not pulled the ball back, Toohill might have walked into the end zone with a pick-six. Two plays later, in a virtually identical situation, Howell either didn’t see Andrew Van Ginkel or thought he could get his throw around him. He was wrong, and the demolition job was on.
Tagovailoa has played a lot more than Howell, so this isn’t a shock. But as good and as noble as the former fifth-round pick has been for much of this year, I’d like to see him begin making more smart plays. He made another terrible decision later on a deep ball attempt to Terry McLaurin under intense pressure that probably should have been intercepted.
I am beginning to worry about how the terrible pass protection is affecting Howell long-term. I am beginning to have visions of David Carr - and that is not merely disappointing - it's scary.