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Sam Howell | 'I think we've made a lot of progress'


Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell addressed the media after practice on Sept. 7. Here is a full transcript of the press conference.

On the long meeting:

"Very magical, actually. [Washington Commanders Limited Partner Earvin] Magic Johnson came by and spoke to us and it was our first time meeting him. It was awesome, man, just to be able to hear what he had to say and be able to ask him questions at the end and pick his brain. We're just so fortunate as players to have a guy like that as a part of this organization that. Has an open door and is always willing to help us with any questions we have. Obviously, he's been through so many different teams and not only as a player, but as an owner and won so many championships on both sides of it. He definitely knows what it takes. It's fun to have him here."

On if he had a chance to pick his brain:

"No, I mean, it was kind of just a team setting. The one question I did ask him is what did those teams that he was on that won the championships, what did they have that the other teams didn't and the teams he was on that didn't win championship what did they not have? He just talked about they believed in each other. They just stood together as a team and they policed each other and always held each other accountable. There was definitely so much good information that he just gave our whole entire team. It was such a blessing to have a guy like that here."

On progress made with Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy:

"I think we've made a lot of progress. I think he's definitely gotten more comfortable here and I think he's gotten better just because us players have gotten better with the system. Therefore, we can expand on certain things and we now have a full understanding of what he's talking about when he says different things, we know exactly what he's expecting on different concepts. We've just been able to grow in the offense. I think at this point, everyone's bought into what he's teaching and everyone knows it works. We're bought in, we're fully bought into him. He's done a really good job leading us so far and we're excited to go into the season with him."

On how the dynamic between Bieniemy's intensity and his calm demeanor works:

"It definitely meshes better than you probably would think. Obviously, when we get on the field he is very, very high energy. He also has the ability to kind of be more relaxed and teach. I think when he is teaching, he's not as energetic as he is out on the field. Now he does a really good job of knowing how to turn it on and off and knowing when he needs to be like that and when he doesn't need to be like that. I think we mesh well together. I think our personalities mesh well together and I think not only me, but for the rest of the guys on offense, we've enjoyed having him here and just feeling his presence each and every day has only made us better."

On what he expects on Sunday as an organization entering a new era:

"It's just a great opportunity. Obviously, this is a very exciting time in this organization, in this franchise. To get out there on Sunday at FedEx Field in front of a sold out crowd, it's a dream come true. It is a really big blessing for me to just have this opportunity to lead this team out there on Sunday. I'm just going to try to do everything I can to make the most of it. This is definitely not something that I take for granted. I know I'm super blessed to have this opportunity. I'm going to try to do everything I can all week to prepare and give myself the best chance to go out there on Sunday and be successful."

On being named team captain in his second year:

"It means a lot. It's definitely another thing that I don't take for granted. To be named a team captain and it being voted on by other guys on the team, it means a lot to me. It's definitely something that I don't take lightly. I'm definitely very thankful of my teammates for giving me that honor."

On if he still has the same routine he used at UNC before a start:

"It's a good question. There definitely are a lot of things that are similar. From a recovery standpoint and getting my body feeling a hundred percent by the time Sunday comes and even from a film study preparation standpoint, there is a lot of similarities. Just because I know college is obviously a different level, but you still have to prepare for the same things in college as you do in the NFL. Obviously, our schedule here is a little bit different. I think from college is where I learned how to watch film and I learned how to break down tape and I learned how to really know exactly what I'm looking for when I do watch tape and how I kind of go about certain things throughout the week. So yeah, there definitely are some similarities in my preparation process."

On if he has a suite in the stadium this year as the starting quarterback:

"Oh no, I wish, but no, I don't have that, no. I was fortunate last year the game I played [NFL Free Agent] Carson [Wentz] had his suite last year and he let me use it for the last game. That just kind of shows you the guy he is, but no, I don't have one this year. They're expensive."

On how he separates volume from message from Bieniemy:
"Yeah, I mean, I think it's just kind of something that you kind of learn over time and you kind of learn how he is and how he gets his message across. I think at this point now, we have a great understanding, us players have a greater understanding of what he means when he says certain things and exactly what his demands are, and we know exactly how to meet his standards and I think that's the main thing that we've learned over time is we've learned the standard that he has set for us. Obviously, you know, he cares a lot about the details, and he gets honest if things aren't right. But us players, man, that's what we want, we want to be coached hard and he knows what it takes to be great and so we're fully bought into him."

On what Bieniemy considers non-negotiables from him:
"Yeah, I mean there's tons of things. Obviously he wants me to run the show, he says it all the time, he says he wants me to have the keys to the car. He just wants the quarterback to be the guy out there running the show and I have to be able to get people lined up. He says all the time, not only know my job, but know everyone's job. So, I think that's the main thing that he says, you know, is just as far as playing quarterback in this system. I love that part of it, you know, I love the control that he gives me, I love the responsibility that he gives me. So it's definitely a quarterback driven offense and it's been a lot of fun to play in."

On what he would consider a good season:
"Honestly for me, I really don't think about things like that. You know, for me, I take it one game at a time and I just try to do everything I can to win one game at a time. I'm going to put everything I have into this season and every single Sunday when I go out there, I'm going to give this team, give this organization every single thing that I have and I think at the end of the day, whatever the result is, I'll be okay with it knowing that I put everything that I had into it. But you know, from a team standpoint, we expect to win every game, every time that we step on the field, we expect to win and that's our mentality and that'll be our mentality throughout the season."

On if he has any superstitions:
"Honestly, I'm not really a guy that has a lot of superstitions, you know, I kind of just go with the flow and it's kind of a week-to-week thing, but there's not something that I have to do before every game. No, I'm not that type of guy."

On the differences between prepping for Week 18 vs Dallas last season and Week 1 vs Cardinals this Sunday:
"I mean, obviously going through that week as a starter and getting just the whole week of practice and preparation as a starter definitely helped prepare me for what I'm going through now. I think this week kind of presents its own challenge just because it's a new head coach on this team. Obviously we kind of know the stuff that he was doing in Philly before, but obviously it's a new team, new personnel and there's not as much tape on this team as you'd like for there to be from a study standpoint. So there are challenges that come with that, so that's why this week is a little bit different, where last week, Week 18 we're playing Dallas. First of all, we've already played them once, but we also have 16 previous games to watch and know exactly who they are. So there definitely are some challenges that come with going into this game."

On the decision to decommit from Florida State University to play at the University of North Carolina:
"Yeah, there was definitely a lot that went into it. Growing up, Florida State was one of those schools that I kind of had circled that I wanted to play at, you know, one of those big-time college football schools. And I think at the time when I was coming out of high school, I just thought North Carolina was a better fit for me. I thought Florida State, their program wasn't at a place where I'd like for it to be. I mean honestly, North Carolina wasn't either, they were struggling at the time, but at the end of the day I just felt more comfortable in North Carolina. You know, I spent more time there throughout my high school recruitment process and then right before signing day was when [UNC Head Coach] Mack Brown got hired at North Carolina and just talking to him and hearing his message and obviously he won a national championship at Texas and just knowing that I had the opportunity to play for a legendary Hall of Fame coach. I knew there was a lot of really good players at North Carolina and I felt like if I went there and did the right things, I felt like we could have some success. So, at the end of the day, it just came down to me being more comfortable there. I think that was one of the biggest decisions I've ever had to make and it just came down to me being more comfortable and believing more in that school."

On how studying film has changed from the college to professional level:
"Yeah, it's definitely grown, obviously just because my knowledge of football has grown so I'm able to pick up on more things and understand more things and you know, just everything that I do is kind of more in depth. I just think when I look at film now, like I know more about what a defense is trying to do, than I did in college and that just comes from being here last year and learning from the coaches here last year and learning from Carson and learning from [Atlanta Falcons QB] Taylor [Heinicke] and learning kind of how they prepared for games. Just kind of having a front row seat to them helped me learn a lot and you know, obviously I learned some new things about how to watch film and different kind of things to look at, that I wasn't doing before. But I just think having that experience last year here helped me a lot to get ready for this year."

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