How can Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell maintain his exceptional 2023 form over a difficult run of games down the stretch?
Sam Howell is the one shining light to emerge from the Washington Commanders' season so far. He leads the NFL in passing yards heading into their Week 11 game against the New York Giants, which is a strong reflection of how well the promising quarterback is growing into a starting role.
Howell hasn't had his bye week yet and is throwing more than any other signal-caller, so being No. 1 needs some context attached. However, how the player has coped with these increased responsibilities is a testament to the way he's being coached and his determination to maximize such a huge opportunity.
Ron Rivera seems completely convinced Howell is the right guy to lead the Commanders moving forward. The head coach is also highlighting this point any time talk of his future beyond 2023 comes up, which is pretty rare for under-fire figureheads around the league.
Sam Howell must keep the same mindset to progress further
When asked about Howell and what he can do to maintain or enhance his current performance levels, assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy highlighted the need to keep the same mindset, not get too carried away, and everything should continue on the right track via Sports Illustrated.
"You know what, and I'll make sure I answer this the right way. Every day is a new day. Every day, I'm more impressed by the person, I'm impressed by the kid. My job is to make sure I'm living in this moment. I can't tell you what's going to take place down the line, but I do know this: the kid has the work ethic. He has the attitude and the mindset that's taken him in the right direction. He just needs to stay who he is, remain who he is, humble, a hardworking kid that doesn't take anything for granted, that understands that every little thing that he learns is by far the most important to help him to be the best player and person that he can be on the field and off the field. So I think if he's utilizing this same work ethic and his family values, he'll be all right when it's all said and done with."- Eric Bieniemy via Sports Illustrated
The growth in Howell from Week 1 to now is outstanding. He's more comfortable in the pocket, improving his decision-making, and recognizing pre-snap defenses with a lot more efficiency.
Howell's arm talent and mobility have never been in question. He's not the most vocal presence, but the North Carolina product leads by example and with a calmness that puts everyone else at ease no matter the situation.
This remains a week-to-week evaluation where Howell is concerned. There's a lot of uncertainty about the future with Josh Harris' ownership group ready to bring about landmark changes to the Commanders, which means nothing can be said with any great certainty no matter how well the former fifth-round selection is performing currently.
That's out of Howell's control. What he can accomplish is taking things one game at a time, maintaining the sort of consistency we've witnessed up to now, and displaying the sort of high character traits that are normally associated with franchise-caliber quarterbacks.
As Bieniemy said, everything after that should fall into place. And if Howell can come through a tough run of games down the stretch relatively unscathed, that might be all Harris and his wealthy team of ownership investors need to see.