Washington Commanders QB Sam Howell has exceeded all expectations throughout his young NFL career thus far, going from fifth-round pick to potential long-term franchise savior in only 11 games.
Just how good can Howell end up being? If the pace he’s on is any indication, pretty good.
Right now, Howell’s status with the Commanders is in the honeymoon phase. He’s the shiny new toy that has just been unwrapped and is still fully intact. He’s responded to every challenge thus far with growth and resilience, and he’s not yet under any real pressure to win now.
That said, the pressure will come. As Howell’s level of play rises, so will the expectations for him, and if he can’t continue to meet them, fans will turn on him. It’s a story Washington knows all too well from the Kirk Cousins saga — it was all fun and games until it came time to pay him that big, juicy contract he wanted. Then, suddenly, he was yesterday’s news.
Furthermore, the more experience Howell gains, the more tape opposing teams will have on him. Every young quarterback goes through a rude awakening in which he must adjust in response to the adjustments made by the competition, and that’s when you separate the haves from the have-nots.
The ultimate cautionary tale in this regard may be another former Washington signal caller: Robert Griffin III. To this day, fans blame his injuries for why he didn’t pan out the way he looked like he would during his magical 2012 rookie campaign. What’s overlooked is that RG3 was too stubborn to adjust his style of play and didn’t
well to coaching.
Howell seems to have a good head on his shoulders, so that shouldn’t be a concern. However, if he truly is the Commanders’ quarterback of the future, there will come a point in which simply putting up good numbers won’t be considered enough. That falls on the team to put the right pieces around him, but it also falls on Howell to continue to pass each test with flying colors.
If he doesn’t, the honeymoon could be over much sooner than Washington wants, but if he does? It might last for the next 15 years.