Washington Commanders Sam Howell Looks Like He Belongs
There are no such thing as moral victories, I get that. Look at Terry McLaurin standing at his locker in full pads 30 minutes after the game ended in stunned disbelief to know what this team took this loss hard. This tells me that they didn’t go into Philly thinking that they had a chance to steal one. It tells me that the Commanders knew when they stepped foot on Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, they could go toe-to-toe with the defending NFC Champs, and they more than showed they were up for the challenge, especially second year quarterback Sam Howell.
The rollercoaster of a game aside, the boys came to play and honestly, I don’t know if you can ask for more out of a team that was picked almost unanimously to finish last in their division, and just got their doors blown off by Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in week three. The talk of the town in DC leading up to this game was all around the idea of “please don’t get embarrassed.” Wins against the Cardinals and Broncos were chalked up to getting lucky against bad teams and now that they played some real competition they couldn’t hang. Many Commanders fans on twitter and beyond discussed the idea of benching Howell, bringing in Jacoby Brissett, and salvaging the season. Which honestly, is really on brand for a fan base that is quick to jump on and off the bandwagon at the drop of a hat. Calls for coaches to be fired, top draft picks to be benched, and free agent signings to be cut before the end of September filled the airwaves and water cooler conversations for days. Everyone forgot about the 21-3 comeback in Denver and started looking at mock drafts to plan for the future.
Then the game started and all that talk went out the window. Sam Howell looked poised in the pocket as he lead the Commanders on a 14-play touchdown drive to open the game, and showed everyone in DC that he was not giving up that starting job easily. Howell has a lot to improve on with his game, but the guy is playing in his 5th start in the NFL and when he got the ball down 7 with 1:43 left in the game and only one timeout, you just knew the kid would give this team a chance. The drive was incredible and the pass to Dotson with no time left was not luck but a confident pass from a QB that knows he belongs in this league. I believe in Sam Howell and I’m excited to see where he goes from here. For the first time since Kirk Cousins “you like that” season, it feels like they have a chance every week.
All of that being said, it was an absolute travesty that Ron Rivera didn’t go for two to win the game. I wanted to throw up when he said in the postgame presser that he went to overtime because the offense was gassed. You know what will really make them tired? Having to go the length of the field all over again and score another touchdown. You are two yards away from the win and you decide to leave it up to a coin flip in the hopes you will get to the same spot you were just in. The Rivera era has been full of some truly baffling decisions and comments but this one might take the cake. I mentioned earlier that the team didn’t think they needed to go steal a win in Philly, they didn’t, but they had the chance to steal the game by going for two with zeros on the clock and the fact that they didn’t is a scathing example of why the Rivera era in Washington has been so disappointing.
Luckily for the Commanders, and all of the Commanders fans, a Thursday night football matchup against the hapless Chicago Bears is exactly what the doctor ordered. An island game to show America what Sam Howell and this offense is all about while the Chase Young and the rest of the defense bounce back is the perfect way to start week 5.