Ron Rivera’s future in Washington is decidedly uncertain. The same is true for general manager Martin Mayhew, offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, and everyone else. commanders‘ Organization. There is only one thing any of them can do and that is to try to persuade new owner Josh Harris to keep him around for next season.
They have to win. Now they have to win.
And they’ll have to do it under the leadership of a 22-year-old fifth-round quarterback.
So that’s where Rivera’s decision to officially name Youth Sam Howell His starting quarterback Friday morning wasn’t surprising, it’s as bold as it was when the Commanders reaffirmed their commitment to him by sailing into the offseason without making a big, bold quarterback move. They hired only experienced journeymen Jacoby BrissetWhich was clearly signed as Howell Insurance.
Since the end of last season, it has been clear that Rivera is willing to risk everything and put this season and his NFL future in the young hands of Howell.
“I feel confident and comfortable to say that Sam is our boy,” Rivera said Friday morning. “There’s still more growth to come. It will only get better. We believe so.”
They have to believe in it. And to be honest, with three weeks left before the start of the regular season, there weren’t much of a choice. When Rivera named Howell his “QB1” heading into training camp, it was clear that, as Rivera said on Friday, “This was Sam’s to lose and he did nothing to lose it.” He’s been impressive in camp, going 9 of 12 for 77 yards and a touchdown in the preseason opener at Cleveland, putting in a very strong showing in a few days of combined practice this week against. Baltimore RavensAnd according to the coaches, he also has a very strong grasp of Binomi’s new offense.
“That’s what I was hoping for,” Rivera said. “It’s what we’ve all been looking for.”
This is true because the starting quarterback was actually chosen only in the spring. The $6.05 billion sale of the beleaguered Dan Snyder to Harris Group commanders was imminent, and Rivera and company knew what that meant for them. New bosses often want to bring in their own people, especially when the old ones have a record of 22-27-1 over the past three years.
Rivera and Mayu’s influence on commanders goes far beyond a poor record, but it is their reality nonetheless. And knowing they now have to win, they could have gone for another quick fix at the most important place to make a better effort to save their jobs. they could be the first to jump in to bid derek carror tried to outrun jet For aaron rodgers, or they could take the smaller – but still big – step of signing jimmy garoppolo Or baker mayfield,
Commanders with a defense — one that ranked third in the NFL last season — and offensive weapons like receivers Terry McLaurin And jahan dotson and running back Brian Robinson, a true upgrade at quarterback could make all the difference. Despite some terrible quarterback play from Taylor Heinicke and Carson Wentz, they were 8-8-1 in football’s best division last season. Adding Carr or Garoppolo could also make them contenders now.
But instead of a short-term solution to a long-term problem, Rivera did something that tends to be unusual in sports: He did what was best for the franchise, not himself.
This can definitely backfire on him in the end, no matter how cool the howl. It is an inescapable fact in the NFL that young quarterbacks struggle. Even for the best guys – future Hall of Famers – their careers often get off to a rough start. And in a division that featured three teams that made the playoffs last season, with three accomplished, $160 million-plus quarterbacks, Howell has a tough road ahead.
However, the commanders have faith in his talent. He seems to have seen it in last season’s regular season finale when he completed 11 of 19 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown and rushed five times for 35 yards in a 26-6 win over Dallas. and also scored a touchdown. He gave them reason to believe that he would eventually have a bright future.
Still, this is not a blue-chip prospect being handed the keys to the franchise. There were reasons why Howell slipped until the fifth round. There were questions among scouts and officials about his accuracy, the timing of his throws, and his ability to read defenses. He undoubtedly came in with a big hand and talent, but no one thought he was ready to step into a bigger role.
Is she ready now? The best reason to hope so is that neither Rivera nor Bienami were going to put their future in the hands of someone who couldn’t play. This is especially true for Bieniemi, who left the comfortable, ring-filled world patrick mahomes in Kansas City to attempt to revive his future head-coaching prospects in Washington.
He knew what he was doing. He knew that he would have to do amazing things in this work. And he knew his quarterback would be Howl. Yet he believed Washington was the right place for him.
However, it is a risk and there is no way to avoid it. Because if they’re wrong, they’re gone. Even though Rivera and Mayhew stabilized the franchise during the toughest years of the Snyder error and built a strong base of young talent, they know Harris needed to see results — and probably still does. There could be drastic changes in the offseason anyway. But if Howell can’t carry them all into the playoffs, big changes are assured.
That’s why no one would have blamed Rivera if Rivera had taken the other route and taken a shot at a better quarterback who could have helped keep his career alive. But he knew that the best interests of the franchise would be served by finding a long-term answer to their most pressing problem. He knew that the best thing for the commanders would be to give Howell a chance.
He was selfless and bold and definitely a risky bet. With this decision, Rivera is literally putting his job at risk. He is putting many jobs at stake.
Still, he stresses that he believes – or at least hopes – that this is a bet that will eventually pay off.
“He’s in really good shape,” Rivera said. “He’s more than a serviceable quarterback now. He’s a guy who’s on the rise.
“He’s the kind of guy who can win.”
Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for Fox Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the last six years in New York covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV, and before that, spent 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. follow him on twitter @ralphvacchiano,
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