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Commanders fans buoyed by prospect of change & ready to back Sam Howell after Week 18 win over Dallas

Survey results!!

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

What a difference a few weeks make in the NFL!

The week before Washington’s Christmas Eve game against the 49ers, we asked in the Reacts poll what fans wanted to see happen at the starting quarterback position in 2023. The results were not incredibly decisive.

While the most popular answer in that poll was to turn to Sam Howell, that option garnered just over one-third of the vote, with 25% of voters favoring the option of consolidating resources to draft a starter in 2024. About 1 in 6 voters favored re-signing Taylor Heinicke as the team’s starter for ‘23, and 7% were still hanging on to the dream of a Carson Wentz resurrection.

Fans liked what they saw against the Cowboys

This week, following a three-week stretch in which we saw Wentz replace Heinicke in the loss to the Niners before starting and losing the critical game against the Browns, after which Sam Howell started and won his first-ever NFL game, beating the heavily-favored Cowboys to help Ron Rivera achieve an 8-8-1 season record for 2022, we asked the same question in the Reacts end-of-the-regular-season poll. (Well, almost the same question — we removed the option of starting Wentz in 2023; anyone who believes he will be a Commander after the start of the New Year is likely to be sorely disappointed).

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The top three choices are the same, but the percentage of the vote is dramatically different. In this week’s Reacts poll, 70% of Hogs Haven readers who voted opted for Sam Howell as the right guy to start for Washington next season. No other option mustered more than 8% of the total vote.

It appears as if fans were impressed by the rookie’s arm talent and poise. And, of course, it always helps to get the win. In fact, following the victory over the Cowboys, overall fan confidence in the direction of the franchise had a sharp rebound.

After having tumbled to just 16% following the loss to the Browns, 46% of fans expressed confidence in the direction of the franchise after seeing the Commanders serve up a 20-point margin of victory — the biggest of the season — to the playoff-bound Cowboys.

Meaningless win that hurt draft position?

In the age-old question of whether fans preferred to see the team get the win, or whether they would have preferred a loss that would have improved Washington’s 2023 draft position, the results of the poll were again pretty overwhelming.

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Fans who were excited to see the team win outnumbered voters who would have preferred improved draft position by 10 to 1.

The end of an era?

Attention now turns completely to the 2023 offseason, with a few huge questions needing to be answered:

  • Is Dan Snyder really selling the Commanders; and if he is, who will be the new owner?
  • How quickly will any sale be finalized?
  • Who will be the team’s new offensive coordinator?
  • What will the team do at the quarterback position?
  • What is Ron Rivera’s long-term outlook in Washington?

At the heart of all these questions, along with the looming issue of getting a new stadium deal in place pretty quickly, is the desire of fans to see the Washington franchise saved from the woeful state of disrepair and disrepute into which it has fallen. Obviously, the hope is for a return to the glory years of the 1980s and early 90s, but even if that lofty goal is not achieved, fans will be aching to see professionalism and competence become the norm after so many years of being subjected to the opposite.

If feels as if this offseason may be the most eventful one in the modern era of the Washington franchise — and after the tumult of the past 3 or 4 years, that’s really saying something!

Fans will be keen to hear any morsel of news about the potential sale of the team, and every move, from coaching staff changes to roster decisions and more, will be scrutinized and discussed in the context of the expected change in ownership.

Fans of every NFL team have a lot to hold their attention between now and April, with playoffs, free agency, and the draft, but fans of the burgundy & gold have more at stake than most this offseason. Hopefully, the next eight or ten weeks will be filled with good news for all of us!!

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