There aren’t many predicting success for the Washington Commanders in 2023. A big part of that pessimism revolves around quarterback Sam Howell. Howell has only one NFL start to his name, and while it was a promising performance, many can’t get past the fact that Howell was a fifth-round draft pick.
We’ll choose to ignore that narrative for this piece, but it is absolutely fair to question if Howell can succeed in 2023 due to his lack of experience. Howell has all the traits to be a successful NFL quarterback. He has arm strength, accuracy and mobility, but that does not guarantee success.
One of the knocks against Howell entering the 2022 NFL draft was his mechanics. Howell said he worked hard this offseason to improve his footwork. He practiced his footwork with his personal quarterback coach while running plays from new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s offense.
Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky recently reviewed some of Howell’s plays from the Week 18 win over the Dallas Cowboys. One play, in particular, stood out for Orlovsky, highlighting several things Howell does well.
Orlovsly highlights in the above play how Howell plays with perfect timing. On the dropback, Howell plants his back foot, with defenders in his lap, and throws a dart to wide receiver Jahan Dotson. It may sound simple, but Howell did a lot on this play. As Orlovsky said, Howell’s objective was to hit Dotson on his left shoulder, which he did perfectly.
Orlovsky believes Bieniemy can successfully build an offense around Howell with Washington’s explosive pass catchers because Howell possesses an advanced understanding of when to get rid of the ball and where to go with it. Getting the ball there isn’t the problem for Howell.
He has the arm strength to make every throw, but the above play highlights the young quarterback’s improved footwork, physical talent, and Howell’s understanding of the different route concepts.
Sure, it’s one game, but proof that Howell isn’t as overmatched as some believe.
Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire