The Washington Commanders stayed out of the QB carousel this offseason. Instead, head coach Ron Rivera made it clear that second-year signal-caller Sam Howell would have every opportunity to earn the starting job for 2023, and he continues to have the inside track at the gig as the NFL calendar turns to June.
Rivera's proclamation was a bit surprising given that Howell was a fifth-round pick in 2022 and only played in one game for the franchise last season. However, the UNC product appears to have shown enough in the shadows of his rookie season for Washington to want to see what it has in the young quarterback over the course of a full season. So far through OTAs, Howell does seem to be turning heads.
Commanders wideout and team captain Terry McLaurin commended Howell for taking "the bull by the horns," and added that he has "led us a lot this offseason."
"He's very confident in his ability, and he's not afraid to give guys the opportunity to make plays," McLaurin said, via the official team website. "You can really tell he has a good grasp of playing football, especially for a young guy coming in with a pretty challenging offense."
Howell isn't totally green as he did start in the Commanders' regular-season finale against the Cowboys in Week 18 last year and was able to help lead the team to a 26-6 victory. In that game, he completed 11 of his 19 passes for 169 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 35 yards and a touchdown.
"For him to come in and be aggressive the way he was, I think that says a lot about who he is and his ability to prepare," McLaurin said of Howell's showing against Dallas. "It was just so good to see him smiling and see that light coming on."
With a taste of NFL action and now a full offseason to work as the presumptive starter, Howell will be put into an ideal situation to succeed as the full-time starter and potentially give Washington its elusive franchise quarterback.