Commanders’ Rivera regrets not playing Howell earlier in 2022
Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera wishes he’d played Sam Howell earlier during the quarterback’s rookie season in 2022.
The Commanders began last year with Carson Wentz as the starter and later turned to Taylor Heinicke after an injury sidelined Wentz following Week 6. Heinicke and Wentz finished the campaign with nine and seven starts, respectively.
Washington didn’t play Howell – a fifth-round pick last year – until its regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. The North Carolina product finished that contest with 169 passing yards and 35 yards on the ground while accounting for two touchdowns to help the Commanders upset the Cowboys and snap a three-game losing streak at the time.
“All we f—–g talked about was the quarterback, what the quarterback did, who he was,” Rivera recently said while describing a conversation he had with his wife, Stephanie, after Howell’s first NFL start, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.
“I kept saying, ‘F–k, if I would have known this, I would have played him sooner.’ When you only have so much time to show it, it’s hard. But after that game, everything told me this kid, give him the opportunity and see what he does with it.”
Rivera admitted that Heinicke – who signed with the Atlanta Falcons in free agency – was a determinant in his decision to play Howell in Week 18.
“Taylor told me, ‘Coach, this guy’s got arm talent. I can’t throw the ball like he does,'” Rivera said. “I think the world of who Taylor is. For him to tell me that, that’s what drove me to play (Howell) against Dallas. It was really how honest and up front Taylor was about this thing.”
The Commanders, who’ve started a league-high 12 different quarterbacks over the last five seasons, named Howell their starter for the 2023 season Aug. 18.
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