Logically, one would guess that there will be one singular quarterback making headlines in the nation’s capital. Commander’s quarterback, Carson Wentz, is the starter going into the 2022 season, and yet, after his first pre-season start for his new team, he was not the one garnering attention. A different Commanders’ quarterback is making headlines.
His name is Sam Howell.
Howell shined in his first NFL game.
Once upon a time, Sam Howell was projected as the best quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, a complicated final season for North Carolina led him to fall in the eyes of NFL teams. This is how he fell to Washington with the first pick in the fifth round.
However, already Howell is showing out, displaying the talent many believed he had a year ago.
In his first NFL game, Howell shined. He completed 9 out of his 16 passes for 145 yards, and he rushed for two touchdowns in his debut versus the Carolina Panthers. Furthermore, he finished the game with zero interceptions.
Sure, Howell was playing against players fighting for a roster spot. These are not the caliber of players he will face in the regular season. However, for a rookie in his first ever professional football game, he showed poise and followed it up with tremendous production.
Is a quarterback controversy already brewing for the Commanders?
Pre-season will feed the hot takes across the NFL. Fellow rookie quarterback, Mailk Willis, is making waves as he performed well in his first NFL game. Some are calling for the start of Willis and the benching of long-time starter, Ryan Tannehill.
Will the same be cried out by fans and the media for the Commanders? If Carson Wentz underperforms, will there be chants for Howell to start? If Wentz is benched, is it realistic to imagine Howell starting over Taylor Heinicke? Heinicke is a fan favorite, and he has shown he can win at the highest level.
These questions may seem far-fetched, and right now, they are indeed out there. However, head coach Ron Rivera has repeatedly made it clear that Washington is in win-now mode. If Wentz struggles, it does not seem too far out there for them to consider benching him. Fans are constantly acting irrational, so after one good performance by Howell, it won’t be surprising to see fans call for the start of Howell throughout the season.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, Wentz was very capable and solid in his first start with the Commanders. He completed 10 out of his 13 passes for 74 yards. He had limited playing time.
After the first preseason game, Wentz was expected to dominate the headlines. Yet, a surprise quarterback, Sam Howell, made the headlines in his first NFL game.
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