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Film Session: Why Ron Rivera benched Sam Howell for Jacoby Brissett

A film session breaking down Sam Howell’s performance against the Los Angeles Rams

NFL: Washington Commanders at Los Angeles Ram Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Sam Howell’s stock has taken a hit as a result of his past few games, and his latest performance against the Los Angeles Rams led to him being benched and replaced by backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Howell’s benching was not random, nor was it a case of Rivera protecting his quarterback, as we know Rivera’s word is as good as - well, it isn’t good. Rivera did not pull Howell to protect him from the Rams' pass rush, despite him doubling down in Monday’s press conference.

Against the Rams, Howell struggled to process what he was seeing from the Rams before and after the snap, which is the most significant factor leading to him being benched for Brissett. Howell was quickly endorsed by Rivera as the starter for the rest of the season, but the decision begs the question of whether the coaches are developing an impatience with Howell due to his inconsistencies as the season moves along. Howell will face three top-12 defenses in the final stretch of games, each of whom have high pressure and sack rates. Rivera did not do right by Howell in the off-season by insulating him as much as he could, and that is okay to acknowledge, but the unfortunate truth now with Howell is what the new decision-makers see in his game with the circumstances that he had to work with. Not everyone in the league even gets an opportunity, so he needed to make the best of what he had and flourished to be the unquestionable starting quarterback for 2024. Despite what he has gotten better at throughout the season, his film against the Rams suggests that he is still far behind.

Check out my latest film session where I broke down some key plays from Howell’s performance against the Rams that led to his benching. I also took a look at Brissett to dissect the differences in his and Howell’s experience levels.

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