It must be the preseason because fans are already starting to fall for a third-string quarterback.
With apologies to rookie quarterback Sam Howell, who performed admirably in his preseason debut for the Washington Commanders, this is an annual rite of passage. The season cannot legally begin until the local fanbase is completely smitten with an unheralded player from the bottom half of the roster — with bonus points awarded if that player is a developmental quarterback.
The ghosts of Taylor Jacobs, Marcus Mason, Jesse Lumsden, Colt Brennan (and countless other preseason fan favorites) nodded in approval as Commanders fans couldn’t contain their excitement over a meaningless exhibition game held during the dog days of summer.
On the day, Howell completed nine of 16 passes for 143 passing yards with two rushing touchdowns. The North Carolina standout’s first scoring drive was a seven-play, 74-yard adventure and then he followed it up with an epic 13-play drive capped by a two-point conversation that briefly gave Washington a 21-20 lead late in the fourth quarter. Sure, the Carolina Panthers marched right down the field and kicked the winning field goal on the ensuing drive, but again, this time of year is all about optimism.
So feel free to focus on the exploits of Howell or rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr., who rushed for a touchdown and, more importantly, didn’t fumble (the same cannot be said about Antonio Gibson, who has to be hearing footsteps after fumbling the ball away more times than any other back in the league). Quarterback Carson Wentz, who started the game and will be behind center once the games actually matter, had a serviceable afternoon. He wasn’t great. He wasn’t terrible. Best of all, he wasn’t inaccurate. Regardless of any numbers on the scoreboard, let’s just go ahead and call that a win.