How Sam Howell's past can define his future as Commanders franchise QB

Taking an in-depth look at Commanders QB Sam Howell's past to predict his future.

Sam Howell
Sam Howell / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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Why Sam Howell is set up for immediate success in 2023

This is arguably the most talented roster - on both sides of the ball - the Washington Commanders had in more than a decade. The defense finished in the top ten last season in nearly every metric and has only added more talent while hoping the health of Chase Young can propel a good group to a dominant one.

On offense, the dynamic wide receiving corps will create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses. All three starters can be used creatively with reverses or packages where they line up in the backfield to keep the opponent guessing. Everyone knows Sam Howell has familiarity with Dyami Brown, so he could take on a bigger role this year.

Both running backs, Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson are above-average runners and natural pass catchers, giving Eric Bieniemy so many options to get creative with his game plans and make Howell's job easier.

Logan Thomas appears to be more explosive than ever in camp so far. Cole Turner and John Bates could be used in two tight-end sets to confuse defenses.

There are fair and unanswered questions along the offensive line, but Bieniemy is known for using creative shifts and schemes to address any weaknesses that may arise upfront. Still, while unproven, the Commanders' protection could emerge as a pleasant surprise. Only time will tell, but that group is the only real question mark.

Let's not forget Bieniemy was on the Kansas City Chiefs during every year of Patrick Mahomes' growth. This included two Super Bowl victories, despite turnover at key positions year after year.

A truly great offensive coordinator maximizes the strengths of the talent he has. Bieniemy has an arsenal at his disposal.

No, Howell will not be Mahomes. The point is that a young quarterback's success largely has to do with the talent and skill set he brings to the table, where he lands and the coaches responsible for his development and skilled talent surrounding him.

All those boxes are checked. Just like Howell thrived with Phil Longo and a bevy of offensive weapons at North Carolina, the same can be said when predicting how he will play with Bieniemy and an offense loaded with talent heading into 2023.

There will be mistakes, learning points, and head-scratching moments. But the Commanders' defense has the talent to be a top-five unit and should be good enough to keep this team in most games.

There is too much talent on this offense and Bieniemy is known for creative scheming to keep defenses constantly guessing. Howell may not be asked to do everything, but he's not going to be a game manager as we have seen from so many past Commanders quarterbacks.

It's also fair to note that Bieniemy - widely touted as one of the top offensive minds in the NFL with the league's top QB at his disposal - took the Commanders' job knowing Howell was the plan. That should not be understated.

Howell has had a noticeable confidence in press conferences this year that we didn't witness during his limited opportunities behind the mic last season. He showed enough during last year's preseason and in the finale against the Dallas Cowboys to give fans optimism.

He had almost a full season to sit on the bench, study in meetings and learn how to be a successful starter in the NFL. Mahomes followed that same route, sitting behind Alex Smith as a rookie.

Fans will have to be patient because it won't always look pretty. But everything is in place for Howell to succeed and solidify himself as the franchise quarterback.

The future of Ron Rivera and the current coaching staff sticking around beyond 2023 is largely reliant on Howell. All signs point to him being fully capable of leading this new offense to put up points, while the defense keeps other teams from lighting up the scoreboard.

Only time will tell, but I would be surprised to see a scenario (barring injury) where Howell is benched for Jacoby Brissett. He has every tool necessary to thrive as an NFL starter, and his time at North Carolina should serve as a reminder of how special he can be when he is set up for success.

Now we just wait, hope and see.