Ron Rivera declined to name a starting QB on Wednesday after the second day of joint practices between the Washington Commanders and the Baltimore Ravens. He said he wanted to go over the decision with Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy and QB Coach Tavita Pritchard. That decision has now been made official, and Sam Howell is the Commanders Week 1 starting QB.
Sam Howell is the Week 1 starter:
It's official: Ron Rivera names Sam Howell starting QB for the #Commanders going into the regular season— NBC4 Sports (@NBC4Sports) August 18, 2023
Hear from the head coach on what went into the decision.#HTTC @nbcwashington @JPFinlayNBCS pic.twitter.com/ATjNtBRDII
Ron Rivera just made it official: Sam Howell will start the season opener vs. Arizona.— John Keim (@john_keim) August 18, 2023
Funny you ask. I talked with Eric Bieniemy and Tavita to be yesterday and after our first preseason game, after both those joint practices, I’m gonna name Sam our starter this year going forward. He’s basically met the challenge that we talked about and that was seeing the growth and improvement from OTAs and minicamp, and then talked about going into training camp and continue to grow and show us what he’s capable of. We’ve been very pleased with it and to the point where I decided yesterday that we were gonna name him the starter going into the regular season.
Talked with Eric Bieniemy and Tavita Pritchard:
Ron Rivera: "I talked with Eric Bieniemy and Tavita [Pritchard] yesterday and after our first preseason game, after both joint practices I'm going to name Sam Howell our starter this year going forward."— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) August 18, 2023
Rivera on the discussions with Eric Bieniemy and Tavita Pritchard about naming Sam Howell starter: "Everybody's on board as for what this means for the franchise having a young quarterback"— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) August 18, 2023
Howell met the challenges:
Ron Rivera names Sam Howell starting QB for the Commanders. “He’s met the challenge.” pic.twitter.com/0DTkXggyzM— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) August 18, 2023
Ron Rivera names Sam Howell the Commanders' starting quarterback: "He's basically met the challenges we've talked about. ... We've been very pleased with him."— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) August 18, 2023
Joint practices sealed the deal:
Rivera said the first practice against Baltimore was the sign for him that Howell was solidified as the starter. Howell kept showing Rivera that he's capable of doing what they need him to do.— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) August 18, 2023
"Sam's our guy."
I think after the first practice against Baltimore. That was the high watermark for me in terms of having to see him show us that he is capable of doing the things that we need him to do. You know, it was a very good day. There was a lot of positive things that came out of it and blocking the tape back at the office I had at the hotel, a little room I had, I kept thinking to myself, you know, that’s what I wanted to see, that’s what I wanted to see. And so I wanted to make sure that when we got back yesterday, we had an opportunity because the players were off. I wanted to make sure we had an opportunity to talk about what we’re seeing and make sure it was the things that we needed to see and we all agreed. So, I just feel confident enough going and comfortable enough to say that Sam’s our guy and we really think that he’s done those things. There is still more growth to go and he’s gonna continue to get better, we believe that and I’m very confident going forward.
Telling the QBs:
Ron Rivera said he meet briefly with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett this morning. Rivera praised Brissett "and I think everybody knew that from my perspective, it was Sam's to lose."— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) August 18, 2023
Rivera says Jacoby Brissett has been a good teammate throughout this process. "From my perspective it was Sam's to lose...he did the things he needed to do and showed the growth we needed...I didnt have any doubt"— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) August 18, 2023
Timing of the decision/announcement:
Ron Rivera stressed that he wanted to get through the joint practices before declaring Howell the starter.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) August 18, 2023
Because I really thought that would, that was all the things that he needed to do in terms of showing us growth. I did purposely talk about the Baltimore practices, the scrimmages because you’re gonna go up against somebody new. You’re not necessarily gonna have a game plan for them. You’re gonna have to work off of just what you’ve learned and exhibit some of that growth and that’s what I believe I saw. I felt comfortable enough yesterday to sit down with Tavita and Eric and listen to what they had to say and it really kind of helped me make my decision. We just feel that now is a good opportunity going forward, so the players will know and the community will know, the fan base will know, as we start getting prepared for the regular season.
Any doubts about Howell winning the starting job?:
I didn’t have doubt but if I would have, yeah, I could’ve changed my mind, but I didn’t have any doubt but I wanted to get through Baltimore. To me, I thought that was where it would’ve come to a head, that you go out there and just lay an egg. But no, he came out that first practice and he was on. He made a couple mistakes, things that most certainly are correct him and things he’ll learn as as he grows. But for the long haul, for the future of us going forward, I really do believe that Sam’s the guy we’re gonna go with.
Because it is one of those things that in their careers, he and Jacoby are in two different points in their career. So to me, a guy that’s ascending, that’s growing into it, you’ve gotta look at it that way as much as a guy that’s there. And so, because going forward, if this is the guy, there’s a lot of good things you can do. And I look at some of the models and some of the other teams in the league that have done this with young quarterbacks and look at where they are today. Its pretty indicative if you get your guy and he’s a young guy, you can do some really good things in terms of roster building.
Confident in, and comfortable with, Sam Howell as the starter:
Ron Rivera on Sam Howell: "I'm very confidant and comfortable saying he's our starter."— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) August 18, 2023
Howell playing vs the Ravens on Monday night:
Rivera says Howell will play in Monday night's preseason game against the Ravens— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) August 18, 2023
Approach to QB this year:
Rivera on his approach to the quarterback position this offseason pic.twitter.com/x6ZqH2wSKM— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) August 18, 2023
Work to be done:
Rivera has stressed multiple times that there is still some work that Howell needs to do, but a key here is that Howell has shown how much he corrects his mistakes and works to improve. That gives Rivera confidence in his decision— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) August 18, 2023
Well, I think it’s just the whole part of the playbook, just really getting a great grasp of it. Our quarterbacks are still learning. There’s a lot to learn, there’s a lot of little nuances and I think as Sam continues to go through the training camp, he’s going to do some good things. He’s going to do some things that he goes, Hey, we got to correct that. But that’s going to be all part of the growth going forward.
I go all the way back to the Cowboys game. He threw the interception and he self-corrected right away and he knew what his mistake was. Everything considered, he played really well in that game. So then we go out and go to OTAs and mini camps, and I was really thrilled with the growth we saw.
And then come in, start training camp, and you just start seeing them having day after day, you know, the good and lows, highs. And then there were a couple of practices that we had which were exceptional. Not just his, but the team, the way that everybody seemed to get it. And you feel really good that that’s a good sign.
Then playing the preseason game, the way he played, I thought there was a lot of positives. And to me, I was real anxious to get to Baltimore. And now having had the chance to go back and look at the tapes, I could say there’s been the significant kind of growth that we were looking for, that I feel we need to have. And so I’m very confident and comfortable in saying that he’s our starter.
Quick passing game:
I’ve seen good decision making and accuracy, Sam gets the ball out quickly, he’s got quick twitch to make a decision. Again, like I said, there are some things, there’s been some growing pains, you know, there was a couple examples from the Cleveland game that we’ve worked on and corrected and we saw it happen in Baltimore’s practice, almost the same exact situation. And in the Baltimore practice, he answered the question, you know, he didn’t answer the question in the preseason game, but it was something that was worked on, something that he had practiced, and then sure enough, it happened in one of the practice drills with Baltimore, and he made the right decision and said, okay, there’s growth. He gets that. Those are the kind of things that we were looking for is that doesn’t repeat the same mistake that he learns from his mistakes, that he can self-correct at times, if he has to.
Rivera said Howell has shown that he has a good handle and feel for the playbook. Likes his decision making and where he places the ball when he throws it— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) August 18, 2023
Starting left guard:
That’s a work in progress, it’s a work in progress. You know, we’re going to continue to evaluate that, having Saahdiq back out on the football field now, I think is going to continue that for us. But no matter who it is, the third guy is going to have an opportunity to play as well. So, you know, we just got to look at that and continue to work and see how it goes.
Starters playing time vs the Ravens:
No, that was the discussion we’re going to have tonight as coaching staff. We’ll talk about it to begin with, and then we’ll solidify that tomorrow night.
Chase Young (stinger) injury update from Ron Rivera:— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) August 18, 2023
"This is all about getting past a certain point with the doctors and then we'll go from there. But he's going to be out here. He's allowed to do everything except for contact right now.”
We’ll see, we’re going to increase a little bit more of his work off to the side before we start engaging him in some of the group activities, but he’ll continue to do what he’s been doing. He did say he’s feeling better and better, and that’s been a huge plus.
Same thing with Phidarian. It’s going to be a gradual thing and we’ll see how that goes for him as well. Chase is in the same situation. Told you guys again, this is all about getting past a certain point with the doctors and then we’ll go from there. But he’s going to be out here, he’s allowed to do everything except for contact right now.
Well, you know what, they were checking him this morning and I haven’t gotten an update on him.
Johnson injured being body slammed by Mark Andrews:
No, I’m upset with the way it happened. It’s just unfortunate too, you know? And to what extent, we don’t know yet and we won’t know anything until, well, they might know something now. I just haven’t had a chance to talk to Al, but you know, it’s unfortunate that did happen at all.