Commanders ensuring complacency doesn't become an issue for Sam Howell

Sam Howell
Sam Howell / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera is doing everything in his power to ensure complacency doesn't become an issue for quarterback Sam Howell.

All signs are pointing to Sam Howell being under center for the Washington Commanders when they take the field in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals. For now, anyway.

Ron Rivera and his staff resisted the urge to go bold at the quarterback position with this primary objective in mind. But it still represents a gamble of epic proportions with jobs at stake once Josh Harris' ownership group gets their $6.05 billion purchase of the franchise officially approved.

It's such a small sample size from Howell that making predictions about how he'll fare next season is difficult. While the former fifth-round selection boasts plenty of enticing skills, his lack of experience coupled with some limitations mean this could really go either way.

Commanders trying to keep Sam Howell's feet on the ground

Having so many exceptional players at the skill positions is only going to serve Howell well during this important transition. He also has a fan in Eric Bieniemy - the new offensive guru in Washington that can hopefully provide the spark that ignites the Commanders back into playoff contention.

The optimism is obvious and something Howell's enhanced throughout off-season workouts. However, Rivera is keen to keep everyone's feet on the ground and move forward with his quarterback competition between the North Carolina product and free-agent signing Jacoby Brissett.

When asked about the Commanders' plans at football's most prestigious spot, Rivera stated via Nick Shook from Around the NFL that even though Howell might start the summer atop the depth chart, nothing has been officially confirmed one way or another as yet with so much of their preparation period ahead.

"Again, it's one of those things that, guys, it's … just because I said (Howell's) gonna start off as QB1 doesn't mean he's gonna finish as QB1. I like to believe, though, that if he goes out and does things he's capable of, he's got a very, very good chance of doing that. I think Jacoby's shown us some things that have really caught people's attention. We talk about Jacoby almost as much as we talk about Sam. I just think as we go through this process and until we play games, it'd be unfair to start making assessments. Again, there is a lot of confidence."

Ron Rivera via

Howell is the signal-caller with a higher upside. Someone that represents an X-factor with the sort of fearless, gunslinging mentally more in-keeping with how to score points in the modern-day NFL.

Then there's Brissett. The veteran represents dependability and has a high football IQ. He won't lose many games, but the signal-caller lacks that true ability to pick a contest up by the scruff of the neck and drive his team to victory.

Competition is obviously healthy no matter the depth chart group. According to Rivera, this is something coming across in no uncertain terms with the Commanders' offseason installation phase almost complete.

"You want a good room where you know there's a lot of cooperation and everybody's pulling for one another and there's not a split dynamic between them. That's really been probably the best thing I've seen."

Ron Rivera via

Howell is smart enough to know this will be a gradual process. He won't be crowning himself king just yet, even if some around the organization and across the fanbase see this upcoming camp battle as a foregone conclusion.

If Brissett does end up on the wrong side as anticipated, he must keep the bigger picture in mind. This means preparing to step in at a moment's notice and also doing everything possible to prepare Howell effectively no matter the standard of opposition.

Otherwise, the new owners might decide to hit the reset button during or after the campaign.