Opinion: Washington has a Quarterback

I have spent the majority of my life (30 years) watching the Washington football franchise struggle to find a competent quarterback to rely on as a long-term option. While the team hasn’t exactly been the equivalent of the Cleveland Browns in the QB department, they’ve been pretty darn close. It’s hard to put these words down because it makes me sad to think about, but it feels like the best QB they’ve had has either been Kirk Cousins or the ghost of Mark Brunell; revolving door would be a kind way to describe things.

The NFL season may only be two weeks in, and I’m utilizing a small sample size, but it feels like the tides are turning. Sam Howell has looked the part of a quality starting quarterback in the NFL, which would already put him in the running for best QB the Commanders have had in my life. Take a look at his two touchdown throws from Sunday:

Sure, the first one to Logan Thomas ended up with him getting hurt, but that has more to do with Kareem Jackson being an absolute scumbag than anything else. Howell lasered those throws into tight windows where only his receiver had a legitimate shot at bringing it in. I haven’t seen a willingness to make a throw like that, let alone the ability to. Cousins was and still is a decent QB, but one of the chief complaints about him has been his timid nature towards throws like that. Howell whipped those in, unafraid of making a mistake which feels like a breath of fresh air.

Down 21-7 early against the Broncos? Unphased. Taken out a few times because your blind side isn’t protected? So what? Defense gives you an opportunity to seize momentum? Took it and ran with it.

Game one against Arizona wasn’t perfect, Howell threw one touchdown and threw one pick, but came away from the Denver with 97 more passing yards, 1 more touchdown and one less interception; and that was on the road! Here’s even more reason for optimism:

Also, to be fair to both sides of the evaluation process, he does seem to hold on to the ball a little too long which comes back to bite him. However, a good portion of the sacks that he’s taken has a lot to do with having a Swiss cheese offensive line protecting him. Howell may only be three starts into his career, but as a fan that’s used to nothing but pessimism and cynicism, the kid’s play has brought me a level of excitement I can’t say I’ve truly felt before. He’s not going to be perfect, he’s only in his second year, but dang it feels good to have hope.

I know Josh Harris wasn’t the owner when Howell was drafted, but I can’t help but be thankful of all the positive things that continue to happen in the early stages of his tenure as Washington owner.

One quick asterisk though: I don’t expect Howell to play particularly well against Buffalo. The Bills are a step up in class and I feel like Sunday is going to be rough on him. That’s okay though, because a second year quarterback isn’t meant to be perfect and sometimes it helps to get checked and refocused to continue growing and developing.

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