How is Sam Howell taking control of his own Commanders destiny?

Sam Howell and Ron Rivera
Sam Howell and Ron Rivera / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

How is Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell making strides to control his own destiny ahead of becoming the team's starter in 2023?

It's an encouraging sign when any quarterback takes the bull by the horns right out of the offseason gate. That's certainly the case for Sam Howell, who is getting a significant opportunity with the Washington Commanders in 2023 after those in power resisted the temptation to make a marquee acquisition with a new ownership group watching every move closely.

Howell got a rare opportunity to sit for almost his entire rookie campaign before starting in Week 18 against the Dallas Cowboys. This provided enough confidence in the former fifth-round pick to give him a legitimate shot next time around, although Jacoby Brissett won't make things easy in pursuit of playing time.

The Commanders are taking a big risk with Howell as jobs look set to come under the microscope once Washington's sale to the ownership group fronted by Josh Harris becomes official. Therefore, the coaching staff is leaving no stone unturned and giving the one-time North Carolina star all he can handle throughout the current preparation period.

Sam Howell adjusting well to increasing Commanders demands

Eric Bieniemy is demanding an enormous amount from Howell. The tempo and standards have been raised exponentially from the Scott Turner era on offense, which is a sink-or-swim scenario that seems to be bringing the best out of everyone involved.

The new assistant head coach/offensive coordinator has been especially vocal throughout OTAs and isn't afraid to let Howell and others know when energy levels drop or execution isn't what's expected. Washington has also mic'd up the quarterback to get a broader perspective of how he's handling specific calls, commanding the huddle, and leading by example.

When asked about this approach following Wednesday's practice, Howell stated via Ben Standig of The Athletic that being pushed is something he welcomes. He added that becoming a team leader is the natural progression with the No. 1 depth chart position firmly in his sights.

"I love being coached, and I love that he does that type of stuff because I always want feedback. I tell him that all the time, to coach me hard. I want to be coached hard. So it’s been fun. I think leadership has always been inside of me. Last year, with the position I was in, it wasn’t my job to come out here and try to get guys ready to go. But I think definitely just stepping into this year in a new role, it’s my job to get the guys going and take command of this team. … I got to take control of the offense."

Sam Howell via The Athletic

Howell's poise and confidence have drawn rave reviews from Bieniemy, Rivera, and wide receiver Terry McLaurin so far, which is encouraging. But there is a long way to go and a lot more to process before he takes the field in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals.

The bar isn't exactly high after the constant stream of failed signal-callers in recent franchise history. Everyone hopes Howell can thrive and the Commanders can build around a Day 3 rookie contract, which could keep their gifted core intact and allow for a big splash or two in free agency along the way.

There's just no telling what the Commanders will look like a year from now if Howell cannot meet expectations. One suspects he'll be relegated to backup duties, but the situation would be much worse for Rivera and many others.

High stakes, obviously. But it's a responsibility Howell is taking incredibly seriously as he looks to control his own Commanders' destiny.