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Film Session: Why Sam Howell was benched for consecutive weeks

A film session breaking down how Sam Howell’s performance against the New York Jets led to Jacoby Brissett starting against San Francisco

NFL: Washington Commanders at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Rivera has benched Sam Howell mid-game for backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett for two consecutive weeks. This time though, Rivera has decided to start Brissett moving forward, at least for their week 17 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. Rivera said he’ll see how things will play out against the 49ers before determining the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. However, I’d expect Brissett to finish the season out for Rivera.

Howell wasn’t good by any means against the Jets, but he didn’t play his worst game either, despite what his game stats suggest. The game against the Jets included several elements out of his control, including three drops, one of which led to an interception (albeit not a great pass). Another element out of his control is the lack of consistent separation against the Jets, as well as his receivers slipping at times, one instance directly causing an interception.

Shortly after Howell was benched during the Rams game, I stated that his coaches were likely already thinking about moving on from Howell if he could not correct some mistakes. Their decision to bench Howell against the Jets was easy after seeing some of those same issues, despite some of the elements that were out of his control. In my film session, I break down his recurring issues that ultimately forced Rivera’s hand in moving on to Brissett such as where his internal clock caused him to bail out of clean pockets, why his lack of anticipation hindered his playmaking ability that he’s proven to have at times with his arm talent, and possibly his height playing a factor in late throws.

Jacoby Brissett isn’t perfect, or an elite talent, but his veteran presence has calmed the offense down to a point where it shows some semblance of functionality. His scoring drives against the Jets were not generated solely because he came in, but in some small moments that may be overlooked in real-time, he made a distinct difference in decision-making compared to if Howell was in that exact situation.

Check out my latest film session below, where I break down some key plays from Howell’s performance that led to his second straight benching for Brissett. I also highlight one Brissett play from the Jets that explains one of the major differences in where they are as a quarterback.

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