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Commanders QB Sam Howell Enough for Coach Dan Quinn?

Coach Dan Quinn understands exactly what kind of quarterback he wants for the Washington Commanders.

Former UNC quarterback gets Commanders' starting job


Together with their owner, who is not quite a year old, the Washington Commanders have a new general manager and coach.

So, the question at hand is: Will the new Commanders require a quarterback change?

Sam Howell, who will begin his third season in 2024, may already be Washington’s best option at the position; yet, most believe the team will at least look to choose one in the NFL Draft this April.

Is Howell what the team is looking for? It goes beyond stats, and deeper into the traits that coach Dan Quinn is seeking out in a leader for his team.

“I’d say number one, you better be really tough mentally, physically tough because there’s gonna be times when the person is open on the physical toughness,” Quinn said at the NFL Scouting Combine when asked what he’s looking for in a quarterback. “You gotta stay in there to deliver it into the right spot. I think you have to have the mental toughness to withstand all that’s going on and keep your focus right here on the team, right with the group that you’re with.”

It’s difficult to blame Howell for hitting a wall during his debut NFL season as a starter, since he led the league in pressures (274) and pass attempts (612).

Undoubtedly, a portion of those pressures stemmed from his inclination to hold the ball longer than necessary, a trait that most young quarterbacks, if not all of them, exhibit as they acclimate to the NFL.

According to Sports Info Solutions, 84 percent of his 612 attempts were catchable.

And that’s something Quinn also covets.

“As far as like a performance side, I think you better show accuracy on the deep ball because when those moments for explosive plays are there – there’s a single high coverage, it’s a man-to-man, it’s an all-out blitz and you nail those moments, that’s where the explosive plays are driven,” Quinn also said about his desired quarterback.

Howell certainly showed an ability and willingness to extend plays at times, though most observers would like for the young quarterback to be more prudent about when he does it and how many hits he takes in the process.

So what does Quinn think of Howell?

“I got a chance to visit with him,” Quinn said. “What I did want him to know is like, man, going against him – he is one hell of a competitor. I tried to hit him, tried to knock him off and to really put pressure on him.”

Now that one aspect has been verified, the question becomes whether Howell’s demonstrated tenacity, his accuracy on film, and his ability to prolong plays for the offense will be sufficient to fend off one of the most gifted quarterback classes in recent memory.

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