Sam Howell spoke to the media before the Washington Commanders held practice inside the bubble due to the weather. He said he reviewed the tape from Sunday’s 31-19 loss to the New York Giants. He said he felt like Washington was the better team, but they beat themselves by turning the ball over six times. He was responsible for three interceptions, the final one being returned for a touchdown to seal the loss. He explained what happened on each one, and the lessons he learned that he will continue to use to improve his game.
Howell is moving on to the Dallas Cowboys, who the Commanders are playing on Thanksgiving. This will be another short week, and the team will be traveling during the holiday. Howell faced the Cowboys for his first NFL start in the final week of his rookie season. He said their defense has a lot of the same players, and is still working under DC Dan Quinn. One big difference will be facing Dallas in Eric Bieniemy’s offense instead of Scott Turner’s.
Sam Howell was also asked if it’s hard to tune out all of the noise about Head Coach Ron Rivera’s job security after another disappointing start. He said the NFL business is rough, and everyone knows what happens if you’re not doing your job and winning football games. Howell said players and coaches aren’t worried about that, and they’re focused on improving and controlling what they can control.
LIVE: QB Sam Howell speaks to the media before practice https://t.co/4U7TyTzchl— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) November 21, 2023
Sam Howell on having to wear a Clemson sweatshirt: “It’s unfortunate.”— Sam Fortier (@Sam4TR) November 21, 2023
UNC lost to Clemson, 31-20, on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/701RIfYYwY
Proud Tar Heel Sam Howell wearing the Clemson hoodie. “I lost a bet.” He’s not happy pic.twitter.com/hijhJJJZX1— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) November 21, 2023
Loss to the Giants:
Yeah, we just didn’t do the things that we needed to win the game. I think, obviously I thought we were the better football team, but we didn’t play that way on Sunday. When you turn the ball over like that, you’re not going to win football games. But it’s a short week, we’re not really worried about the previous game, we’re focused on this one and got a good opponent this week. So, we’re excited about the matchup.
Hard to tune out the noise around Ron Rivera’s job security?:
Commanders quarterback Sam Howell was asked about the scrutiny surrounding head coach Ron Rivera.— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) November 21, 2023
Howell was asked if it's a hard thing to put aside?
Howell said, ""Everyone knows the business we're in. If you're not doing your job, things happen." pic.twitter.com/whNuJPO8Tv
Sam Howell on Commanders struggles: "Everyone knows the business were in. If youre not winning, things happen."— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) November 21, 2023
I don’t think it’s hard. I mean, obviously, everyone knows the business we’re in and at the end of the day, if you’re not doing your job, things will happen. But us players, coaches, I don’t think anyone’s really worried about it, we’re just trying to do everything we can on a daily basis and the results are the results. We try to do everything we can in our power to control what we can control and make sure we come in here each and every day and put our all into this. I think everyone has throughout the year, and obviously we’ve had some disappointing games, but nothing changes. We’re going to come in here and give it our all every single day and the results are what they are.
Added excitement playing on Thanksgiving?:
Yeah, it’s a great opportunity for us and obviously I think not only me, but everybody grew up watching Thanksgiving games and it’ll just be a fun opportunity for our team to go play against a really good Cowboys team on national TV on Thanksgiving Day. It’s just a blessing just to be not only in this league but getting the opportunity to play in games like that is a big blessing and we’re excited for it. We’re going to try to do everything we can to prepare ourselves to go down there and win the game.
Wide receivers’ stat numbers being lower this season despite the team being a pass-heavy offense:
I think that’s one of the big things about this offense is we spread the ball around. Obviously, we’d like some of those numbers to be higher and we’d like to get guys more involved in games. But it’s just kind of one of those things where it’s just going into a game, you like to get certain people the ball, but at the end of the day, the defense dictates where the ball goes. It’s just something we got to try to continue to do, try to continue to get those guys more and more involved. They’ve been really good when we’ve gotten the ball to them. So, it’s my job and EB’s job for us to work together and just try to get everybody more involved.
Easiest thing they can correct in a short week: :
Howell: "When we play against the opponents and not ourselves, we have a chance to win every game." Howell says the easiest thing to fix are the turnovers.— George Wallace (@GWallaceWTOP) November 21, 2023
The turnovers, just the mindset. I just think we got to be more focused. Obviously, you never go into the game planning on turning the ball over that many times, but it’s a focus thing and it’s just something you got to think about. We know if we play against the opponent and not play against ourselves, we have a chance to win every single game. That’s our thought process going into this week, it’s trying to just focus on Dallas and focus on the things that we can do to try to attack them. Obviously just take care of the football, play smart, complementary football and give ourselves a chance.
The Dallas Cowboys’ defense:
They have so many good players on that defense, obviously Micah Parsons, and they do a really good job getting after the quarterback. You definitely got to have a really good protection plan against them. They make it tough, the DC does a good job mixing up looks, getting in different coverages but they have really good players all across the board.
Personal mistakes from Sunday:
It was a tough game. I had some unfortunate plays that didn’t go my way, but I think there was some decisions I’d like to have back. I thought we moved the ball well for most of the game. I just didn’t make enough plays for us to win, and I had the costly turnovers that cost us the game.
Did he feel like he was pressing against the Giants?:
I don’t think so. I was trying to just play the game how I know how to play, and obviously I think when you’re down in the fourth quarter, you tend to be a little bit more aggressive. That’s how people coach you, to be a little bit more aggressive there when you’re down in the fourth quarter. But still, there’s no excuse to turning the ball over.
Difference in preparing for the Cowboys now vs Week 18 last season:
It’s different because it’s not near as much time, shorter week, but obviously same defense, a lot of the same players. And we’re in a new offense, just the way we attack defenses is different. So, from a preparation standpoint, you have to change some things up as far as different things you look at. And we’ll go into the game with kind of a different plan than what we had last year, just because it’s a different offense. I don’t think there’s many differences as far as what they’re doing on defense. It’s a lot of the same guys, same DC but the main difference for me is just the stuff that we’re doing on offense.
Reflecting on how far he has come:
Honestly, not really. I haven’t really thought much about that, and I just try to do everything I can to take it one day at a time, one week at a time, and just try to get better each and every day, each and every week. I haven’t really reflected much on my growth. But it’s just one of those things where I’m in the moment now, we’re in the season, so I’m just going to try to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep trying to get better.
Process of examining the tape and then moving on from it:
I mean obviously I’ll watch the game afterwards on Sunday. But it’s one of those frustrating things to where it’s not like we got out played, we just didn’t take care of the football. We were moving the ball up and down the field, but I had the three interceptions. We had, I think three fumbles, and it was just, we literally beat ourselves.
So, you can be at peace knowing that that’s the reason you lost the game. They didn’t come in here and beat us. We beat ourselves. But at the same time, you got to try to fix those issues and make sure you’re taking care of the football, but it’s not like we had to turn the ball over six times to learn that you can’t turn the ball over.
We never plan on going into a game and losing the ball six times. It was just one of those things where it happened, and we just got to be better because of it.
Lack of focus wasn’t there and on how they can correct it:
It’s hard, obviously, like I said, you never go into the game thinking you’re going to fumble or thinking you’re going to throw an interception. But we just got to value the football more. I think some of those fumbles were on kind of second effort plays and you just got to do a good job keeping two hands on it. And for me, I got to do a better job as far as making better decisions with the football.
I thought for the most part, like the first interception, I didn’t think it was a bad decision. I just think it could’ve been a little better throw. I could’ve given Dyami a better chance. Then the second pick, I think if I didn’t get hit, it would’ve been a completion, but at the same time, I have to know I’m about to get hit and make a smart decision. And the last one, I just got to get the ball out of bounds. It’s all stuff you can learn from. But we’ll be better because of it.
Ron Rivera speaking with him about his growth:
I think not only Ron, but all my coaches, they pull me aside every now and then and tell me they think I’m doing some good things and tell me things that they think I’ve improved upon. But for me, I just try to take it one week at a time and just keep trying to find ways to get better. I think when you spend too much time looking at how I’ve gotten better, it takes time away from how you could be getting even more better, you know? So, I kind of spend my time and attention towards finding more ways to get better and finding more ways to help this football team.
Rivera’s conversation with him by his locker after the game:
He just told me just keep my head up. We got a lot of football left. But he’s always had my back, always supported me. It’s fun to play with a coach who has always had my back and always knows how to pick me up and get me back going.