After being deemed too broken to play through a concerning slump, it seems as if Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell is getting one final audition.
After another week littered with quarterback turmoil, the status quo looks set to remain after all. It seems as if the Washington Commanders will have no option other than to reinstall Sam Howell as the starting quarterback if Jacoby Brissett's hamstring injury means he cannot suit up as expected.
Most reporters with knowledge of the situation seem to think Brissett proving his fitness is unlikely. He'll do his best and the Commanders want to see the veteran in pre-game warm-ups before making their decision final. But all signs point to Howell getting a start just when it looked like all hope had been extinguished.
Commanders QB Sam Howell must seize the moment
Howell's been on the slide for weeks performance-wise. One can point to the inept protection or Eric Bieniemy putting too much on the first-year starter as mitigating factors. When it's all said and done, his production has lacked the consistency needed to get the Commanders out of their concerning slump.
After two straight in-game benchings, Ron Rivera opted to take Howell out of the firing line. He acknowledged it's been tough. That the former fifth-round selection would benefit from sitting out. That he's taken too much punishment within a pass-happy scheme and behind porous protection.
These sentiments were echoed by Bieniemy. The play-caller said Howell hasn't played well. His declaration that he couldn't put his finger on why was bemusing and lacked accountability.
Now, the Commanders are going back to Howell with tails between their legs. This might be by default, but it represents one final chance for the North Carolina product to improve long-term prospects.
Expectations are low, in all honesty. The Commanders are under-strength on both sides of the football. They also happen to welcome a San Francisco 49ers outfit looking to get their Super Bowl quest back on track after losing to the Baltimore Ravens last time out.
That doesn't bode well for Howell given his low confidence. But he's risen to the occasion before against high-class opposition this season. He must do the same again this afternoon if the signal-caller does get the nod as anticipated.
It's an awkward turn of events in keeping with how Rivera's handled the quarterback position since taking over as head coach. The words beforehand will be empty. Howell must keep the bigger picture in mind, realizing his future is largely dependent on how he performs. What coaches have to say is inconsequential when one considers most of them - if not all - are heading out of the door.
Howell's been keen to remain resolute. His primary focus was to be a good teammate to Brissett and keep developing. Now, he's been thrust into the limelight almost as quickly as he departed it.
If the Commanders can keep this game close, it would be a considerable achievement in the circumstances. The spotlight will be shining brighter than ever in Howell's direction. How he responds during one last audition under center will tell us plenty about his inner belief in the face of significant adversity.
Seize the opportunity. Make things happen versus one of the league's best defenses. Then, and only then, all hope won't be lost.