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Eric Bieniemy Presser: Sam Howell didn’t play well; we weren’t playing well as a team

Eric Bieniemy talks to the media before practice

Washington Commanders Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy spoke to the media before today’s practice. Ron Rivera named Jacoby Brissett the starting QB for this Sunday’s home game against the San Francisco 49ers. Brissett has replaced Sam Howell the last two weeks due to poor play, and now he’ll get his first start for Washington.

Bieniemy said that Howell wasn’t playing well, and they weren’t playing well as a team. Howell has done some good things this season, but he wanted him to have to opportunity to watch Brissett run the offense for a full game. He said Howell gets a reset. and Brissett earned the right to play.

Bieniemy was asked about his own responsibility in Howell’s development, and his regression as the season has gone on. He said he is constantly evaluating his own playcalling, and all aspects of his coaching. He also said that the coaches put their trust in the players to execute the plays, and Howell wasn’t playing up to their expectations.

Eric Bieniemy

Jacoby Brissett replacing Sam Howell at QB:

Good Afternoon. I know that you all are aware of the decisions that have taken place, after a number of conversations, sitting down with all the different coaches on our staff, we’ve decided to make the move. Obviously, we thought it’d be good for Sam to hit the reset button, but also understand that Jacoby has earned a right to be placed in this position so he can go out there and earn the right to play. But when it’s all said and done with, we just wanted to do what was best for the team moving forward. With that said, I’m all ears.

Biggest difference in Brissett leading the offense compared to Howell:

It’s a number of things. Obviously, we weren’t playing well as a team, and sometimes you just need a spark. Sam did a number of great things throughout the entire season. Obviously, there’s a number of things that take place throughout the course of a game, but unfortunately the quarterback position is the most scrutinized position in all of football.

So, you just basically evaluate everything. And with a veteran like Jacoby, who’s been in this game for a while and who’s the ultimate professional, he stepped in and I thought he rose to the occasion and he gave us life, and he gave us a spark. So, with all that taking place, we just had to basically, carefully consider and just make that decision moving forward.

Sam Howell:

l thought Sam did a great job. Obviously, the production has not spoken well for itself, but he’s done a great job. He’s a professional, he’s a young kid growing in this industry, and I’ll say that sometimes without any bad luck, you wouldn’t have any good luck at all. This is going to give him an opportunity to reflect on everything that has taken place so far this season.

On top of that, he’s going to have an opportunity to watch a veteran like Jacoby work, and I think that’s probably one of the best things that he can do. The good thing is that, obviously, he’s healthy, but now he can just sit back and observe, really slow everything down. But, he can’t slow everything down too, too much because he always got to be ready on any play. But I just think right now it’s good for him. But also too, it’s a great opportunity for Jacoby moving forward.

Offensive performance:

l think it’s a number of things. Like I said, the quarterback position is probably the most scrutinized position in all of football, but collectively, we got to play better as a group. That means I got to do a better job, guys got to do a better job of executing and playing, and we got to go out and making sure that we are doing everything under the sun that’s going to give us the best opportunity to have success. He just didn’t play well. And unfortunately, you know, that happens and it’s not like anything that you can put your finger on.

But on the flip side of that, Jacoby steps in and he sparks a rally. So, the good thing is that you have a great quarterback room, and those guys do a great job of supporting one another. Those guys are the biggest fans of each other. And obviously it’s a tough situation, but I guarantee you Sam is going to be Jacoby’s biggest fan, just as Jacoby was his biggest fan moving forward.

How Howell can put himself back in the mix:

l think what he needs to do is just to slow the process down, be a film junkie, and keep asking questions, keep taking notes. Like I said, Sam has been the ultimate professional. I think right now it just gives him an opportunity to observe. One of the best things that he can do, more than anything, is not so much everything I just said, but just watch a veteran who has done it before. We’ve talked about this in the past when Jacoby has stepped in, just to see how he operates, how he handles the team, how he basically takes command of the huddle or certain things that are said.

Also, there’s certain things that we can’t teach as coaches that he can gravitate to as far as work ethic and all the little inside things that those quarterbacks do to help them to maintain their stability throughout the entire season. So, there’s a number of things that comes to mind. But, like I said, Jacoby has this opportunity and I’m excited about him moving forward.

Chris Rodriguez Jr.’s injury’s impact on what they are able to do:

Well, I’ll just say this. Those guys are going to do a heck of a job. Coach Randy Jordan and Coach JK, Jennifer King. They do a great job. We got a great running back room. Those guys, they do a great job of working well together. So, we’re not concerned about that. The next man will step up and rise to the occasion.

What impresses him about the San Francisco 49ers:

l mean, what doesn’t impress you about what they do? First of all, they do an outstanding job on defense. Obviously, Steve Wilks is the defensive coordinator who I’ve known for a number of years. In fact, I think me and Steve probably came out the same year in the draft, or maybe he came out one year later. But, I’ve known Steve for a long time. He does a great job.

With all that said, everything starts up front, Bosa is doing a hell of a job, and then we get to see our old pal Chase come back. Obviously, they got one of the better backers in all the football. And that’s not to disrespect anybody else on that team, it’s just that I have a connection with my man Fred Warner. His dad, my younger brother, they basically were very close friends. So, I’ve followed Fred’s career for a number of years now, and then there’s a corner who’s playing for the San Francisco 49ers who was on our team, who won the Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs when we were there.

So, I’m very aware of who they are and what they bring to the table. It’s going to be a great challenge for us. When it’s all said and done, we just need to come out and execute. We got to go play hard. We got to play assignment sound, and we got to be accountable to one another by making sure that we are executing our jobs with great attention to detail.

Kansas City Chiefs disappointing season:

l have not had an opportunity to watch. I know everybody probably wants to know that, but Christmas, I actually enjoy Christmas being home with the family and being present with my family. I didn’t watch any football, which actually kind of felt good. I can’t believe that I, and I admitted that.

Has he gone a whole day without watching football before?:

We had the day off. So, I did get some work done, but I didn’t watch any live television games. It felt good because you don’t put yourself in that stressful position because you find yourself becoming a fan regardless of who’s playing. And so, no, I enjoyed Christmas with my family, and I appreciate Coach Rivera giving us that opportunity to have the day off, to spend that important time with the ones who that you care for.

Chase Young saying he will treat it like any other game and why he expects from him:

Oh, yeah, Chase, he going to treat it like, we’ll see his best effort. I say that, I haven’t had an opportunity to know him as long as everybody else. First of all, I love the kid. I love the energy that he brings. Obviously, he’s been a tremendous player. This league is the way it is. And I mean it is the ultimate professional game, and sometimes those things happen, but I expect him to be at his best.

That means that we have to be at our best as well. These guys know each other. They’ve had an opportunity to practice against each other for a number of years. This entire offseason we’ve had an opportunity to just work against him. So, I expect Chase to be at his best, but I also expect our guys to be at their best also, because they’re very much aware of what he can do and what a game wrecker he can be as well.

Chris Rodriguez Jr.’s performance this season:

You know what, I’m fired up and excited about the kid. The kid, Chris is a very, very smart, hardworking, intelligent football player. He does whatever you ask him to do. If you want him to go out there and cover a kick, he’s going to cover a kick. If you want him to basically line up on punt return and block the right guard, that’s what he’s going to do. If you want to line him up on kickoff return as an up back, that’s what he’s going to do. So, you love everything that he brings to the table because he does not take anything for granted.

And then when given an opportunity to go out there and produce and play his normal position, he understands what that means. That’s an opportunity to put something on tape, but it’s also an opportunity to show exactly what he’s capable of doing. So, love the kid. I thought he did a tremendous job. Obviously, we don’t discuss anything with injuries, but I will say this, the kid, he’s going to be great for this organization moving forward.

Anything he could have done to prevent Howell’s recent regression:

Oh, every game I sit back and I go back and I watch tape. There are always things that you would like to do or like to change and that’s the case for every game and in every practice. So, you’re always self-evaluating first because you have to take a look in the mirror. But one thing that I’ve learned as well is I have to put trust in the players to go out there and be at their best. Now, that’s unfortunate that he didn’t play up to the level that we would have loved him to play.

But one thing I will say about that kid, that kid is a very, very resilient kid. He’s very professional. I’m very proud of him. He’s accomplished a lot. I know right now this is a reset moment for him, but Sam has a bright future. He has a great career ahead of him and I’m just looking forward to watching him to continue to grow.

If making Howell the backup helps or hurts his confidence over letting him play:

Well, I mean, you can make a case, you can make an argument for both ways, correct? I think sometimes you got to learn how to play through these moments. But also too, when you have a veteran who’s done a great job of stepping in and has sparked some energy moving forward, but also causes some excitement, you can’t overlook that. So yes, you want to be very mindful of Sam’s confidence level and how he’s going to handle this, but also too, we’re in the profession, right?

Production-driven industry:

It’s a production driven industry. So, Jacoby’s done a heck of a job. So now we’re going to give Jacoby this opportunity to go out there and show what he can do. The best thing about that is that those guys are both professionals, they’re great friends, and Sam is going to be his biggest supporter, and he’s also going to be his biggest fan. So those are the things that excite me about this.

What he could have done better in helping Howell develop this season:

Well, there’s always things. I mean, you’re going back, you’re always thinking about calls that could have been made because as a play caller, you’re always evaluating, did I make the right call? Did we get the right coverage? Did we get the right look? Did we have the right concept? Did we get the exact defense? So that’s always something that you are always going to consider.

But those are the things and it ain’t so much that it is thinking just about the quarterback, it’s more about overall offensively when you’re addressing that, making sure that we’re putting the guys in the right positions to go out there and have the success that they need to have. But you got to understand, when you wear this hat, you’re always going basically look in the mirror, because you always want to evaluate what you’re doing so you can help self to be better moving forward.

How much the quarterback change was about the rest of the team:

You always have to consider, I mean, this is a team sport. We got to make sure that we are doing what is right, not just for the team, but also to what is best for the organization. And right now, this is what’s best.