Mike Tirico was not surprised to see Sam Howell play well vs. Cowboys

Mike Tirico is one of the best sportscasters in the entire world. Tirico isn’t just a football play-by-play announcer for Sunday Night Football on NBC. A former Sportscenter anchor, Tirico also hosts the Olympics and the Triple Crown.

With the Kentucky Derby coming up this weekend, Tirico was a guest of the “Sports Junkies” on 106.7 The Fan and talked about the Derby. Of course, talk turned to the area’s local NFL team — the Washington Commanders.

And when the talk turned to the Commanders, of course, quarterback Sam Howell was a topic.

“I think Sam is a guy they really targeted in the middle of last year as the guy,” Tirico said via Lou DiPietro of Audacy. “We got the second Giants game flexed last year, and as we were there, we kept hearing from multiple people about him, so I was not surprised to see him play, and play well, against Dallas. I’m not saying he’s Patrick Mahomes, but that was the Mahomes model: sit him until the last week, play him once, and go from there.”

The obvious question that always comes up is if Washington talked up Howell so much, then why did it take Taylor Heinicke going to Ron Rivera telling him to start Howell in the finale?

That’s a fair point. As others have noted, the Commanders wanted to give Howell work last season in relief, but the opportunity never presented itself.

As we, and many others, have stated, much of Washington’s success in 2023 depends on Howell. If he plays well, the Commanders have a future quarterback and are likely in the playoffs. If he doesn’t, well, you know the answer.

Tirico agrees.

“The receiving corps and running back group is there, and I like what they did in the Draft,” Tirico said, “so overall, I like the approach – but can Sam play at that level? There are not a ton of great QBs in the NFC right now, so why not be in a position right now to see if you have one who could do a really good job – and if you have a guy who can do a really good job, on a rookie contract, you can do well in the NFC.”

Washington’s defense should be good again. The Commanders need more from their offense, and they are counting on Howell and new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy for a few more wins in 2023.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire