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Sam Howell | 'I just think my overall understanding of defensive football has gotten better throughout the year'

Screenshot 2023-11-15 at 1.24.16 PM

Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell addressed the media before practice on Nov. 15. Here is a full transcript of the press conference.

On how much more comfortable he is in the offense and in working with Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy and on playing the New York Giants for the second time this season:
"I just think my overall understanding of defensive football has gotten better throughout the year. And obviously just having those in-game experiences and just learning more about what defenses are trying to do to stop us. Obviously, this week we'll play the Giants and just having that one game under our belt, I think will be big for us as far as our preparation going into this week and we're excited."

On how the previous matchup against the Giants changed things for him and on how anxious he is to see the areas he's improved on since then:

"Obviously, that was a disappointing game for us. We didn't play well offensively and there's a lot of things we could have done a better job of but we're excited. We got another opportunity to go against them. They got a good defense, and they do a lot of really good stuff on the defensive side of the ball. They mix up the looks and every single game they're doing different looks and stuff, so it makes it harder to prepare. But all we can do is prepare for everything they put on tape. We're excited for the challenge and we know we let one get away last time for sure."

On his touchdown pass to WR Dyami Brown and on what led to him getting the ball:

"He was really probably the second guy in my progression. The nickel did a good job kind of getting in that first window of Dyami's original route, but I was just trying to influence Dyami to kind of come inside of that guy. And obviously we've played a lot of football together, so I have a good feel for kind of what he's going to do in those types of situations and he made a good play. I tried to throw it where only he could get it. He jumped up, made a good play and he did the rest. But I mean there was good protection on that play. That was just a good football play for our offense for sure."

On if he feels more comfortable making that throw now than in previous weeks:

"Maybe. I've always been confident in my arm, and I've always felt like I could make every single throw on the football field. I think in that situation, I have all the confidence in the world that I can get the ball where I want to get the ball. I'm probably just a more confident player, but the confidence in my arm has never changed."

On leading the league in passing yards and on being ranked among the league's best in other metrics:

"Honestly, I don't really look at it a whole lot. It doesn't really mean much to me. Obviously, I want to go out there every single weekend, play well and give our team a chance to win. Obviously, we haven't won enough games. We haven't won the games that I feel like we should have won this season. So that's a little bit disappointing, but I really don't look too much into what I'm doing on a personal level. I look more into what we're doing as a team and just how I can improve for this football team and how I can put this football team in better chances to win football games."

On what he has learned about Bieniemy's coaching style:

"He is doing a good job, and he cares so much. I think he's one of those coaches who puts so much into it, and he demands a lot from his players, and I think as players, that's what we want from a coach. He's put so much into this team, into our offense, and I think a lot of people in this building respect him. He's done a great job. He's calling games really well right now. We just got to try to keep this momentum going and keep trying to play better and better and keep trying to win football games."

On if the touchdown pass to Brown was intentionally thrown to him:
"Yeah, I mean, honestly, even if it was somebody else, I would probably anticipate them to do the same thing. I have trust in all those guys, and I feel like I have pretty good chemistry with all the receivers that we have. So, I think no matter who it was in that situation, I still probably would've made the same decision. It just happened to be Dyami at that point. I trust all my guys, everyone's making plays. Obviously, we got to try to continue to get more people involved and get people the ball earlier on in football games to get them going. But yeah, no matter who's out there, we've thrown the ball to a lot of guys this year and I really don't care who's out there. I know everyone that's on the football field can make plays. It's just my job to get the football to the right person and let them do what they do."

On his relationship with RBs Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson Jr.:
"I mean, those guys are awesome football players. Obviously, they can run the ball at a really high level, but what makes those guys really special is what they can do in the passing game as well. Especially, BRob is not a guy who's known for catching the ball out of the backfield. He is a power runner and a guy who runs the ball downhill, but he does a really good job as far as check downs and scramble drill type stuff. He has a good feel for the game. He's just a smart football player and he tells me all the time if something breaks down, come find me. That just makes me feel comfortable as a quarterback knowing that I always have someone I can dump the ball down to.  In the Seattle game, he probably told me five times before the game, if the play breaks down, come find me, I'll always be open and it just so happened that it worked out that way. But those guys were awesome. AG came in there in the fourth quarter, ran an awesome route on a play we tried to get schemed up for him to have a favorable matchup and we got it, and he did a good job. So, everyone just kind of doing their part, we just got to try to continue to get better each and every week."

On if he can anticipate what Bieniemy will call on certain plays at this point in their working relationship:
"Yeah, I would say so. I think he talks about the game plan a lot with us throughout the week, so we kind of know how he's going to want to call the football game and we kind of know what calls he likes in certain situations, certain areas. So, you can kind of have a feel for kind of where he's going and what direction he's going in. I think he does a really good job in between drives as well, telling you what plays are probably going to be coming up the next drive or he'll tell you if we get a first down on this drive, the next first down we're going to call a shot play or something like that. He's a great communicator, always tries to get everybody on the same page. So, to answer your question, I would say yes, sometimes."

On if he's gotten more comfortable with drive progressions:
"I think I've definitely grown in that area. I think it's something that EB and [Quarterbacks Coach] Tavita [Pritchard] have talked about a lot is just extending plays, keeping my eyes downfield and being able to sometimes stay in the pocket, getting to the backside of my progression or if I do have to get out of the pocket, keep my eyes downfield and try to make a play. I think our guys do a really good job on the scramble drill and those type of broken-down plays. The O-Line's doing a really good job right now as well. It's allowing me to get back to the fourth and fifth reads of my progression. So, I think I've definitely grown in that area and it's just something that's worked for us so we're going to try to keep doing it."

On if he learned anything from playing Philadelphia twice that can translate into playing New York for the second time this weekend:
"Yeah, I mean, I kind of, like I said, when we played the Eagles the second time, I think every coordinator is different, every team kind of takes a different approach as far as if they're going to try to play the same defense or if they're going to try to give some different looks. I think the Giants played well on defense against us the last time, obviously. So, we got to prepare for what we didn't do well and what they were doing well against us. You can kind of get into a guessing game as far as what you think they're going to do differently. But at the end of the day, all you can do is prepare for what they've put on tape so far and that's what we're going to do."

On if he pays attention to the national attention he is getting:
"Not really. It really doesn't change anything for me. I haven't really noticed if it is out there, but I just try to do everything I can to stay focused on this team and stay focused on each and every game that we play and just taking it one day at a time. And we still have a lot of games left. I think we still have seven games left, that's a lot of football and a lot can happen in those seven games, and we're going to take it one week at a time and we feel good about our chances against every single one of these teams that we play. So, it's just a matter of us doing the right things throughout the week to give ourselves a chance on Sunday and then going out there on Sunday and executing. We have a lot of football left, so that's what we're focused on."

On how he and Bieniemy's relationship has grown:
"Obviously it's definitely grown as we've gone through each and every week and we've obviously learned more about each other as we've gone throughout this journey. I just think there's nothing like going through games together and getting that experience, so our relationship's definitely closer. I don't think anything's changed as far as what he feels like if he feels like he can talk to me a different way than he did when we first met, you know? It's pretty much stayed the same. But I would just say we've just grown to know each other better. We've grown to get more comfortable with each other and I would say there is probably more dialogue as far as what I like, what I don't like. But it definitely has grown."

On if there are specific things that he's done better to perform at the level he's at right now:
"It's hard to say. I think every game is different. I think we're doing some good things. I think we're still leaving a lot of points out there. I don't really try to compare week-to-week, game-to-game. It's kind of hard to do that. Every team is different, every defense is different. We just got to try to take it one week at a time and you know, just because we've played, I think we've played alright the past few weeks, doesn't mean we're going to play alright this week, you know? So, we got to take it one week at a time, one day at a time, and make sure we approach it the right way to give ourselves a chance to try to play well on Sunday and give us a chance to win."

On if he watched UNC beat Duke:

"Yeah, I did watch it. Big win. Big win for sure."

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