Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell said all the right things after a humiliating 37-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Howell was sacked nine times and threw four interceptions in the game after winning his first three NFL starts.
Howell took responsibility for the sacks, acknowledging he held the ball too long. As for the turnovers, he was trying to make plays, which sometimes led him to force the ball.
Never once did Howell blame anyone else.
The truth is Howell is responsible for some of those sacks. But it’s also true that Washington’s offensive tackles have also struggled in pass protection, particularly right tackle Andrew Wylie.
According to Next Gen Stats, Howell was pressured on 69.2% of his 39 dropbacks, the second-highest pressure rate ever recorded in the NGS era.
At one point in the game, the Bills pressured Howell on nearly 80% of his dropbacks.
The offensive line was a hot topic throughout the offseason. Did head coach Ron Rivera do enough to improve a unit that struggled last season? The Commanders have four new starters on the offensive line and, through three games, look improved in the three interior positions. Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. isn’t perfect, but he’s not the complete liability many believe him to be.
It’s Wylie at right tackle that’s been the biggest concern. Will he improve? Will offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy scheme him more help on the right side?
One thing is certain: Howell can’t continue to take hits like this every week. Some of that is on him, and some is on the offensive line. This is a big week for Washington and its coaching staff.