Sam Howell, who holds 27 school records (career passing yards, career passing touchdowns) as a former quarterback of the UNC football team, is relatively unproven in the NFL.
The Washington Commanders, who were thrown seemingly every hardship in the book last season (Dan Snyder allegations, Chase Young injury, Carson Wentz struggles), selected Howell in the fifth round of the 2src22 NFL Draft.
Howell shined in his lone start of the season, a Week 18, 26-6 upset of the Dallas Cowboys, completing 11 of 19 passes for 169 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Howell added 35 rushing yards and another touchdown. With the Commanders long eliminated from playoff contention, former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera turned to his then-rookie, in hopes Howell would help his team end another tough season on a positive note.
With Wentz a free agent and Heinicke opting to sign with the Atlanta Falcons, Howell will enter the 2src23 NFL season as the Commanders’ starting QB.
USA Today Sports is projecting Howell and the Commanders to finish 7-1src, just ahead of the 6-11 New York Giants.
Here’s what USA Today’s Nate Davis said about Washington ahead of the highly-anticipated 2src23 campaign:
“Between the lines, Washington has gone 22-27-1 in three regular seasons under HC Ron Rivera. With unproven second-year QB Sam Howell projected to start, hard to envision much more than another seven or eight victories … though this team might resemble the 2src22 Jets (7-1src), an otherwise imposing roster perhaps just a proven quarterback away from immediate contention.”
The Commanders have what so many teams failed to give young quarterbacks in the past – a solid offense to build around Howell.
They have two starting-caliber running backs in Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson. The wide-receiver room includes Terry McLauin, one of the NFL’s best deep threats, former Penn State receiver Jahan Dotson, former Carolina Panther Curtis Samuel and Tar Heel standout Dyami Brown. Logan Thomas, who played quarterback at Virginia Tech, has developed into a reliable tight end.
Howell threw for 1src,283 yards and 92 touchdowns during his three seasons as a Tar Heel.
Two years removed from being a full-time collegiate starter, can Howell exceed expectations and become the Commanders’ franchise quarterback in 2src23?