Commanders coach Ron Rivera talks where rookie QB Sam Howell is in his development

The Washington Commanders could soon have some difficult decisions to make at the quarterback position.

At 4-5, the Commanders head to unbeaten Philadelphia on Monday night to face a team that defeated them soundly, 24-8, back in Week 3. The game will be quarterback Taylor Heinicke’s fourth start in place of the injured Carson Wentz.

Barring a major upset, Heinicke will be 2-2 in those four starts, with Wentz eligible to return next week against Houston. Whether Wentz returns in Week 11, Week 12, or Week 13, he is close to a return, and head coach Ron Rivera will have a decision to make.

Depending on Washington’s record, when Wentz returns, does Rivera go back to Wentz to give him another shot to succeed with the Commanders? Or has he seen enough? If Heinicke played well enough to lead Washington to an upset win, this would be a moot point; Heinicke would continue to start in the short term.

The key for the Commanders is not allowing Wentz to reach 70% of the team’s offensive snaps, so the 2023 third-rounder sent to Indianapolis doesn’t turn into a second-rounder. Wentz’s injury helped Washington in that regard. The truth is if Wentz played like a franchise quarterback before his injury, the Commanders would have no problem sending a second-round pick to the Colts.

He wasn’t.

Wentz and Heinicke aren’t Washington’s only quarterbacks. There is also rookie Sam Howell. The fifth-round pick flashed in the preseason, and the Commanders would be wise to give him a look before the end of the season. Many believed Howell to be a potential top-10 pick just one year earlier, so there is talent there.

If Howell does play and shows potential, he could be in the mix to start in 2023. Washington is back in the quarterback market if he plays and struggles. Regardless, Howell will be on the roster next season.

After Saturday’s practice, Rivera was asked where Howell was in his development.

“I think he’s getting more and more comfortable,” Rivera said of Howell. “There’s some little details to his technique and his footwork that I know ]QB coach] Kenny [Zampese]’s really harping on. In college, you can get away with those things, and he did, and he did a really great job, but there are some things that in this league you have to be really good at.”

“Great example, a couple of times in the preseason when he got sacked or got hit, it was understanding that you’re in shotgun; we considered this a five-step drop. Well, it’s not catch the ball, shuffle your feet and throw it. It’s you may have to take a step and a half to make it a five-step drop and that helps aid in the timing, helps aid in the protection, because if you’re only at three and a half, four yards, that guard or that tackles expecting you to be at five or six and you’re not, that’s tough on him. So those are little things that he has to understand what certain plays call for in terms of the depth of your drop and how important that is to your protection.”

It’s not surprising Howell may not be 100% ready. But how many rookie passers are ready? It’s up to the coaches to get Howell ready.

Howell started every college game for three seasons at a Power Five school. He has arm talent, and he can run. Part of the issue with Howell was he played in a completely different offensive scheme in college. It shouldn’t matter. If he does play, Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner should call a game plan that caters to Howell’s strengths.

These next few weeks should be interesting as it pertains to Washington’s quarterback situation.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire