Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell played three series in the preseason-opening 17-15 win over the Cleveland Browns Friday. Howell completed nine of 12 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Howell also had an impressive eight-yard scramble for a first down on a third-and-6.
There were multiple instances in those three series where Howell showed impressive traits. His processing was outstanding on a couple of throws, as Howell checked down instead of forcing the ball into coverage.
Was he perfect? No. On the sack he took, Howell perhaps held the ball for a second too long, and right tackle Andrew Wylie was beaten for a sack.
But on Washington’s third drive, the Commanders faced a fourth-and-3 on Cleveland’s side of the field. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy had two downfield routes called on the fourth down play. Tight end Cole Turner ran a crossing route from the left side, while Terry McLaurin was lined up on the right side on what looked like a drag route and Antonio Gibson leaked out of the backfield.
When Howell took the snap, he immediately looked to his left toward receivers Jahan Dotson and Dyami Brown before scanning back across the field to Turner and then Gibson. As the linebacker covered up Turner and Gibson was covered, Howell scrambled to his right, and Turner reads his quarterback, drifting toward the right sideline, and Howell follows him, unleashing an accurate ball for a completion and a first down.
Here’s the play, courtesy of Mark Tyler.
4th and 3 – Howell buys time and throws a 🎯 to Cole Turner for the 1st! pic.twitter.com/JlxG1MI4I5
— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
Impressive stuff — from Howell and Turner.
That’s a big-time play from Howell. He scanned the field, did not panic, and used his legs to buy time while always keeping his eyes downfield. Then, throws a dart to Turner on the move.
As for Turner, he did a really savvy job of staying with his quarterback, a positive for the future of the young tight end and quarterback working together for years to come.
When evaluating some of these young players in the preseason, it’s plays like this that stand out and excite coaches. Fans have reason to be excited, too.