Could Sam Howell lead the Commanders on 'unintentional tank' in 2023?

Sam Howell
Sam Howell / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Could quarterback Sam Howell lead the Washington Commanders on an 'unintentional tank' during a critical 2023 campaign for the franchise?

Sam Howell is going to make or break the Washington Commanders season in 2023. The quarterback is getting a significant opportunity to become their long-term No. 1 option after impressing on his only rookie start, which is a gamble that will come with franchise-altering ramifications if things don't go smoothly.

Ron Rivera picked up a solid veteran Jacoby Brissett in the event Howell fails to meet early expectations. Just how long the leash will be given that he sits on one of football's hottest seats is another matter entirely.

The former fifth-round selection out of North Carolina has slowly begun winning people over throughout early workouts. There is plenty of hard work ahead for the player at training camp, which might provide coaches and fans with a broader perspective about what Howell can accomplish over a full 17-game campaign.

Sam Howell could lead Commanders on unintentional tank in 2023

It's a feast or famine move that the new ownership team led by Josh Harris will be monitoring extremely closely. Howell could thrive and lead Washington to the postseason, but a situation could also emerge where the Commanders capitulate en route to a high-end pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

This was a topic discussed by Hunter Haas from NFL Mocks on FanSided. The writer stated that although it's unlikely that the Commanders will be bad enough to secure someone like Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, this worst-case scenario cannot be dismissed entirely when one factors everything into the equation.

"Either [Sam] Howell shocks the world and makes the front office look brilliant. Or he flames out, and [Jacoby] Brissett gets a chance to right the ship. Or, perhaps the most likely outcome, the Commanders stumble throughout the year and earn a high draft pick next April. It would take a serious downturn for the franchise to be bad enough to land a Caleb Williams or Drake Maye. An injury here, an injury there, and underwhelming play behind center could be the unintentional tank necessary to get one of these talented quarterbacks."

Hunter Haas, NFL Mocks

Going with Brissett at any stage would represent throwing in the towel. In this instance, tanking for a game-changer like Williams would be the best option despite professionals fighting for their jobs would not consider the possibility.

For now, optimism remains for Howell. He's growing in confidence, is eradicating mistakes slowly, and picking up Eric Bieniemy's creative, complex scheme effectively to increase confidence in his chances further.

Bieniemy's presence is being somewhat overlooked by those who aren't following the Commanders closely. He's one of the brightest minds around and if Howell cannot make it work with such an accomplished play-caller, then it's doubtful the second-year-pro will thrive anywhere.

Washington has the skill position players, a formidable defense, and an offensive line that could make improvements. Therefore, Howell couldn't ask for anything more as he looks to turn himself into a decent NFL quarterback next season.

As previously stated, this is a precarious situation. And there's no doubt Rivera hitching his wagon to Howell is another bold move from a coach that has rarely got things right at football's most pivotal position.

If he's wrong this time, that'll be the last we see of Rivera and perhaps even Howell in Washington.