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Jacoby Brissett named Commanders' QB for Week 17 vs. 49ers


Jacoby Brissett will be the Washington Commanders' starting quarterback for their Week 17 game against the San Francisco 49ers, head coach Ron Rivera announced Wednesday morning.

Brissett, who the team signed in March, has played in relief for second-year pro Sam Howell in the last two games. In that span, Brissett completed 78% of his passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns.

The decision to put in the veteran over Howell comes after the young quarterback, as well as the Commanders' offense as a unit, has struggled against a string of the NFL's most talented defenses. Howell, who showed promise in the first half of the season, has had a particularly difficult time. Over the last five games -- a stretch most considered to be Washington's most difficult this season -- he's thrown just two touchdowns compared to eight interceptions.

Howell's production has gradually declined since his three-touchdown game against the Seattle Seahawks, so much so that Rivera and assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy made the decision to pull him in Week 15 and on Christmas Eve against the New York Jets. At the time he was benched on Sunday, Howell had six completions on 22 attempts for 56 yards.

"I think right now you watch him and he's trying to make the perfect play," Rivera said Tuesday. "I think he's reading a little bit more into some of the things that he sees out there. I think he's just got to settle in and trust what he's seeing initially and stick with the offense."

Brissett had to take the field when the Commanders faced a double-digit deficit, but there is a noticeable difference in how the offense functions with him under center. He stays in the pocket, takes what the defenses have given him and tries to get the ball to the team's best playmakers downfield.

As a result, the offense has operated more smoothly. In the two drives that he played against the Los Angeles Rams, the Commanders gained 132 yards -- just eight yards shy of what the Commanders amassed in their previous 10 possessions and scored twice.

It was much of the same against the Jets, when Brissett came in for Howell with less than seven minutes left in the third quarter. Brissett went 10-of-13 for 100 yards during his five drives, hitting Logan Thomas for a 15-yard touchdown. Again, most of Washington's yards came with Brissett at quarterback; the unit gained 89 yards in their first 10 drives and 196 in their final five.

Rivera had not come to a decision on the quarterback position on Tuesday -- he said following the game that he and his staff would evaluate things and come to a decision in the coming days -- but the head coach did say that he still believed in Howell's future.

"Things have gone relatively well early in the season and into the middle," Rivera said. "But it's been tough the last couple of weeks. The last few weeks have been tough on him. He's taken a lot of snaps, the length of the season, obviously probably wearing on him as well as the number of plays he's had and the number of hits he's had to absorb."

Brissett is also firmly in Howell's corner and had a message for him after the game: there is no simple solution to fix the problems that he's had, but "the good ones find a way to get to the other side."

"I'm excited for him, man," Brissett said. "I told him, 'I'm excited for this part in your career because not a lot of people get this experience, and the ones that come out on the other side have a better story than a lot of people. I'm sure he'll appreciate this part of his journey at the end of his career."

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