The Washington Commanders made their first significant move of the offseason, hiring Eric Bieniemy as their offensive coordinator. After landing one of the top offensive minds in the NFL, the Commanders seem to have a plan in place on that side of the ball for next season.
Washington took a gamble last spring with the Carson Wentz trade, hoping the former NFL star would blossom in a new environment. Instead, he was benched twice with Taylor Heinicke and Sam Howell thrown into the lineup in an effort to spark the offense.
- Sam Howell college stats: 164.2 QB rating, 92-23 TD-INT, 10,283 pass yards, 63.8% completion rate, 1,009 rush yards, 17 rushing touchdowns
Heinicke performed relatively well as a fill-in starter, posting a 5-3-1 record with an 89.6 passer rating. However, the 6-foot-1 quarterback is limited skills wise and that put a ceiling on the Commanders’ offense.
Howell, selected with the 144th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, received his lone opportunity in Week 18. Facing the Dallas Cowboys, he completed 11-of-19 attempts for 169 passing yards, also taking three sacks and rushing for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Related: Why Eric Bieniemy left the Kansas City Chiefs for the Washington Commanders
Despite only allowing Howell to start one game in the regular season, Washington’s coaching staff came away impressed by the rookie signal-caller. He made improvements behind the scenes throughout the season, positioning himself favorably heading into 2023.
Ron Rivera told Pro Football Talk that Howell will head into the offseason program as the top quarterback on the depth chart. In terms of competition, Washington only intends to add a veteran who can serve as Howell’s backup.
It’s a plan that Bieniemy supports completely, per PFT’s Mike Florio. The new Commanders’ offensive coordinator feels “positive” about the state of Washington’s offensive roster and that includes Howell, the favorite to start in Week 1.
- Sam Howell NFL stats: 57.9% completion, 1-1 TD-INT, 169 pass yards, 83.0 QB rating
Related: Washington Commanders to release Carson Wentz
Before hiring Bieniemy, many expected the Commanders to deploy a more run-heavy offense last season. However, the new offensive coordinator’s playbook that he operated with Andy Reid indicates Washington will rely more on quick passes and setting up plays for yards after the catch this fall. It’s a quarterback-friendly scheme that should help Howell in his first year as the starter.
While the Commanders will either draft or sign a quarterback who will provide Howell with some viable competition in training camp, the organization’s plans for the point guard of their offense are essentially set. Howell will have a chance to prove himself in 2023, but there’s a strong possibility Washington is in the quarterback market next year.