Teammates laud Howell ahead of huge offseason


The quarterback carousel continued in Ashburn this past season as Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke vied for the Washington Commanders’ starting role.

Sam Howell, though, emerged as the potential signal-caller of the future and impressed coaches enough for Ron Rivera to name him the tentative QB1 heading into the 2023 campaign. Teammates couldn’t be happier about Howell’s chance to take the reins of the Commanders’ offense come Week 1.

“We’ve seen Sam do what he can do during practice and through training camp. That dude’s a dawg. That dude can ball,” Heinicke said on the Pat McAfee Show on Thursday. “If he’s got a chance, let’s see what he’s got. Obviously [the team] drafted him for a reason, so he went there and balled out.”

Heinicke is referencing Washington’s Week 18 victory over Dallas – the one regular season game Howell appeared in for the Commanders. Though it was a meaningless game as Washington had already been eliminated from postseason contention, the 22-year-old impressed against a talented Cowboys defense. He finished 11-of-19 passing for 169 yards, 35 rushing yards and two total touchdowns as the Commanders upset their division rival 26-6.

Washington’s quarterback situation outside of Howell is a bit ambiguous as things stand, though. Heinicke is a free agent and his future remains unclear. Wentz is under contract for 2023 but the team has the option to release him prior to the season to save cap space, which would make Howell the last man standing.


But if Howell does indeed start the season as QB1, one of his most important offensive teammates has his back.

“I think Sam has made all of the progression he possibly could’ve made,” Brian Robinson Jr., who will likely be Washington’s starting running back next season, said in an interview with NBC Sports on Thursday. Robinson likened Howell’s potential to that of San Francisco QB Brock Purdy, who was impressively able to lead his team to an NFC Championship appearance just a couple of weeks ago.

“I told Sam all throughout the season during practice and locker room talk, ‘Hey man, I believe in you. I feel like if you get an opportunity, you’re gonna do what needs to be done for this offense.’ Simple as that,” Robinson said. “To be able to come in after not even having any game experience the whole year, and prove that you can get it done with just little experience versus a good Cowboys team, just shows you that as a rookie – undersized, doubted – same kinda story as Brock Purdy.

“He just didn’t have the setup or the situation or the opportunity as Purdy, but man, same type of work ethic. Man, [Howell] is gonna be alright.”

Heinicke and Robinson aren’t the first Commanders players to give roses to Howell ahead of arguably the biggest offseason of the young quarterback’s life so far. Jonathan Allen was impressed with Howell’s toughness during practice. Terry McLaurin loved what he saw from Howell during his lone start vs. Dallas.

“I’m very excited for him. He’s got a bright future ahead of him if he keeps working hard,” Heinicke said. “Hopefully he can keep doing it…all the guys in the locker room believe in him, too.”