What should Commanders expect from Sam Howell in 2023?
So what should we look for from Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell in 2023? I want two things.
I want him to generate touchdowns – be it through the air, or setting up short Brian Robinson Jr. runs. And I want a very low sack percentage. 6.0 or below.
That would put him in the top half of the league in a normal year. As a point of reference, Taylor Heinicke was a mediocre 6.8 last year and Carson Wentz was a very poor 8.6.
The really good quarterbacks with high sack percentages tend to be the best runners – players like Hurts and Lamar Jackson. They tend to hold the ball longer while scrambling around and do get sacked more as a result. They also make more chunk plays downfield.
Not getting sacked obviously aids an offense, but it also says something about how well the quarterback dissects the entire defense – both pass rush and coverage. Quarterbacks who don’t get brought down tend to see the game at a slower speed. That may be an innate talent. It may be the function of superb preparation. Either way, it is a very encouraging sign for a young player.
There is a caveat here, and this is why I said that Howell also has to produce touchdowns. A quarterback can avoid sacks by growing panicky and flinging the ball too early to avoid the sack. Quarterbacks can never be afraid of either throwing an interception or taking a sack.
Contrary to the way many people see the position, I would rather he risk the interception than take the sack. Because when he risks a takeaway, good things can happen, especially in the era of defensive pass interference. There cannot be DPI if you do not throw the ball.
Brett Favre is a classic example of this. He threw a ton of picks but had more touchdowns. One of the reasons he was able to throw so many scores is that he did not take a lot of sacks. His career sack percentage is 4.9, which puts him in the top 20 all-time.