The Washington Commanders continue to have an eventful summer as the team started off training camp with a new quarterback under center in Sam Howell. After Dan Snyder sold the franchise to Josh Harris, the organization is ready for a revival. Head coach Ron Rivera enters his fourth season, but he has yet to lead the team to a winning record. With a new ownership group and quarterback, Rivera faces pressure to put the team back in playoff contention again.
Throughout much of training camp thus far, the Commanders defense has gotten the best of the offense. With defensive end Chase Young healthy after a long recovery from his torn ACL, rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes making plays, and several other young defenders stepping up, the defense has shown promise while the offense struggles.
Some of those struggles start with quarterback Sam Howell, who is of course expected to take the reins at the quarterback position after the Carson Wentz experiment backfired in 2022. Practice has been far from perfect for Howell, but that should be expected from the 2022 fifth-round-pick as he continues to adjust to a new scheme under offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy. After all, Howell still needs way more reps after only starting one game his rookie season.
Going forward, the Commanders will want to see improved accuracy from Howell, who has completed less than 60% of his passes at multiple practices. While it's presumed Howell will be the starter, Jacoby Brissett still has a chance to take the QB1 title from Howell if he outperforms him come preseason. There's still no guarantee that Howell has the starting job locked down for week one.
One thing going well in Howell's favor is the support he has from star wide receiver Terry McLaurin. McLaurin continues to speak highly of Howell as training camp progresses, saying, “As we've gone over the course of this offseason, we've thrown together, we've gotten some reps out here … I think one thing that strikes me with him is we have a nuanced connection.” per Zach Selby of the Commanders official website.
“It's been great so far and I'm excited to work with him and hopefully he's gonna be our guy for the future.”
Establishing strong chemistry with the team's top pass-catcher will only bode well in Howell's favor. He clearly has McLaurin's approval so long as he continues to improve.
Aside from the quarterback, the Commanders offensive line is also going through a tough period of camp, in part because of an injury to guard Saahdiq Charles. With Charles sidelined, offensive guard Chris Paul has now been given the chance to earn the starting guard spot. So far, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen has gotten the best of Paul in scrimmages, but Paul is staying optimistic.
Following practice, Paul stated during an interview, “There's going to be ups and downs … But I'm a firm believer that iron sharpens iron and that's really almost the best aspect about training camp is that opportunity to know what you're good at – hone into those – and know what you need to work on and especially hone in on those,” per David Harrison of Sports Illustrated.
The Commanders desperately need their offensive line to improve if they want to keep Howell upright during the season. Last season, the Commanders ranked in the bottom-10 in allowing pressure. The offensive line certainly has a tough match against the studs on defensive line daily, but poor protection will only delay Howell's development going forward.