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Sam Howell: “I know I have a lot of work in front of me, and that’s what I’m focused on right now.”

Sam Howell addresses the media after practice

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images

Sam Howell was a 5th round draft pick last year who sat behind Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke on the depth chart. He got his first opportunity to start in the Week 18 game against the Dallas Cowboys last season, and he entered the offseason as QB1 after Wentz was released, and Heinicke left in free agency. The Washington Commanders signed free agent QB Jacoby Brissett to compete with him, but Howell was expected to get the start over the veteran when the season started.

The decision became official today when Ron Rivera told the media before practice that Howell with be the team’s starter this season. Howell spoke to the media after practice and answered questions about earning the starting job. He’s focused on improving his game, and putting the work in to remain the Commanders’ starter. Howell said he’s a lot more confident this year, and he’s more comfortable in his game, and leading the offense.

Grateful for the opportunity:

I’m grateful for the opportunity that the coaches have given me. Shout out to Coach Rivera for just believing in me and always trusting me really since I got here. I just shout out to him and all my coaches, EB, Tavita, Zampese, Luke, all the guys, Jacob. There’s been so many guys here that have helped me in my development and my career that have ultimately led to the position I’m in today. So just a shout out to all those guys.

Much more comfortable than last year:

I just think I’m so much more comfortable than I was, especially last year. I have a year under my belt. I didn’t play the whole year but just being here that year and learning so much, I feel like I’ve learned so much from a mental standpoint. I feel really comfortable going into this year.

I think it’s just a confidence thing. When I step out on the field, I’m confident in my abilities. I’m confident in the offense, I’m confident in my teammates, and I’m confident in the system. When I’m confident in all those types of things, I can just go out there and just be myself and play free and play fast. I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing the past few weeks. I feel really good about it.

Rookie season preparing him for a starting role:

Yeah, I mean, I think the main thing just going through last year was just trying to have a positive mindset. You know, it was really the first time in my life where I wasn’t playing, and so just trying to attack every day still with the same mindset like I was playing so I could get that experience and have that experience under my belt going into this year. Really just credit to the coaches, you know, Coach Zampese did a really good job last year in helping me in my development, even though I wasn’t playing, he still put so much time into me and he was committed to me and so I thank him so much for that. Then just going into this off season, just trying to take advantage of this opportunity that I have and just trying to sharp up every part of my game.

Being named the starting QB:

Ron Rivera telling the QBs who was the starter:

He told both of us that he was going to announce it today. He just told me that he was excited for me and that he believes in me and that he trusts me. To hear those words come from him, it means a lot. He’s a great guy, great coach. He’s been around the game for a long time, so just to have his support and his confidence in me means a lot.


Yeah, I mean, obviously I’m always confident in my abilities just to come out here and perform and do well for this football team. I think just throughout camp every single day I’ve gotten better and more comfortable and I feel like I’m in a really good place right now with the offense. I feel really good going out there every single day and I feel good about my chances to go out there and execute.

Quick game:

The quick game is awesome. I love that part of the offense that we have. It makes my job easy, getting the ball out of my hands fast and we have some really good weapons on the outside. That’s a way to get the ball in their hands really fast. That’s one of my favorite parts of the offense.

Offensive line:

I was very pleased with their performance in Baltimore. I thought there was some things in the Cleveland game we could have done a better job of and I could have helped those guys. Like the one sack we had in Cleveland was my fault. I got to do a better job of helping those guys. I was very pleased with their performance in Baltimore. I thought they did a really good job, and they’re starting to learn how to play together. Once they do that, they’re going to be really good.

Rivera liking his mental approach:

I mean, I would probably say that’s kind of how I’ve always been. Ever since I was a kid and as far as I can remember playing sports, I’ve always kind of been that way and that’s something that my dad kind of taught me when I was young, especially when you’re playing this position, you know, things are going to go well, things are going to go bad, but at the end of the day, people are looking at you and so you got to just focus on what’s next and focus on your teammates and trying to get everyone ready for what’s next, whether it’s something good or bad happened. It’s always about what’s next and that’s kind of always been my mindset.

Team leader:

I don’t think it really changes anything, you know, obviously I try to do everything I can to make sure my group of guys is ready to go. I think the main thing with leadership is it starts with having relationships with your teammates and knowing everybody and knowing what gets everybody on your team motivated. So, I’ve learned kind of who my guys are on offense are this year, and I think by learning who they are, I can lead them how I need to lead them. I think I’ve done a good job of that, and I’ll continue to do that.

Jacoby Brissett:

Yeah, he’s awesome. I definitely got really lucky to have a guy like that in my corner. Obviously, he came here to compete, and he’s done a really good job but, you know, not only from him coming here competing, he’s also here trying to help me. He’s been an awesome guy to have. He’s been an awesome friend of mine, we have a great relationship, so I’m just super thankful to have a guy like that in the locker room.