Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell addressed the media before practice on Sept. 20. Here is a full transcript of the press conference.
On if the decision to throw the ball away in Week 2 stemmed from sacks in Week 1:
"Yeah, I mean, I think that it was a big part of it. I'm always trying to find ways to get the ball out of my hand and limit sacks. Obviously, I think we still had more than we'd like to have. So, just got to continue to do a better job of that stuff. But yeah, that's a big emphasis for me is try to get the ball out and even when stuff is there downfield, just try to find an incompletion. An incompletion is better than a sack."
On his improvements from Week 1 to Week 2:
"I just think I played more decisive, and I think my decision making overall was better. I was just playing more decisive and getting the ball out on time, so I felt like I was in good rhythm."
On watching back his touchdown pass to WR Terry McLaurin:
"Obviously, it was a good play, great catch by Terry. I just got to continue to give Terry those types of opportunities. I knew that I could put the ball in a place where he would have the only chance to catch it and I trust Terry in those situations and he's shown not only this year, but throughout his career that in those situations he's more likely than not going to come down with it. Just credit to him, credit to [Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy] EB, the coaching staff who dialed that play up, it was one that we were looking forward to running that game. We had a good look for it, so, it was just a matter of us going out there and executing, and Terry made the play."
On reading the defense prior to McLaurin's touchdown reception:
"I knew the coverage they were in. Right on the snap, I looked at the safety on Terry's side and then during the play I peeked back at the safety on the opposite side to make sure he couldn't come in and play the ball. And then once I kind of saw how those two guys were playing, I knew where to throw the ball to where they couldn't get it. At the end of the day, it was all credit to Terry making that good play and then also our O-Line, they gave me some good protection on that play as well."
On communication from Bieniemy during the game:
"Yeah, I think it's been good. There's been a lot of help on the sideline, not only with me and EB, but with [Quarterbacks Coach] Tavita [Pritchard] and [QB] Jacoby [Brissett] as well. Everyone kind of giving their input on how they think the game is going and we're just continuing to grow as an offense and we're just creating more chemistry every single time we get a chance to go out there and do it together. So, I feel like it's one of those things that will only get better each and every week."
On going into the Bills game with two wins:
"What a great opportunity for us as a team, going against a team like Buffalo, one of the better teams in the league and we're excited for the challenge. We're excited to give it our best effort, we can just kind of see where we're at. We feel like all the stuff we have in so far game-plan wise has been really good, so, we're excited about the plan. [We] got to have a really good week of practice and go out there on Sunday and just play our game. I feel like if we do that, we'll have a chance."
On what he has seen from the Bills defense:
"Yeah, they're really good, a really good defense, probably the best defense we've played so far this year. Just everywhere you look on the field, there's a good player. They're a veteran group, they know exactly what they're doing in coverage and they don't do a whole bunch of crazy looks, they kind of play what they play and they're really good at it. So, we got to be ready for that stuff. I think we'll have a good game plan, but they definitely have some good players all around on their defense, so we definitely got to be prepared for it."
On the success of screens this season:
"I think we've put so much time into it and throughout the spring, OTAs and training camp and then in the preseason we put a lot of time into our screen game. There's a big emphasis on that and when we talk about it, when we install those screens, it's very detailed. That's one thing that EB does a really good job of is when in our screen game, he's so detailed as far as where we want everybody to be on every screen, because that stuff's important. Obviously, we had some really good ones hitting the game and we'll continue to build on those."
On what makes a screen play more creative:
"Yeah, I mean, I think [Bieniemy] he does a good job with just certain formations, certain formations where they might be expecting pass or something like that, or maybe we're running a formation a couple times throughout the game to try to set the screen up. That way, they see some different looks out of that formation and the last thing they're expecting is a screen. So, just different things like that. You can do some different stuff with motions, but the main thing is making sure you're setting it up throughout the game and giving those guys looks to where when you are calling the screen, they think it's something else."
On Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen:
"Josh is a tremendous player. [He's] One of the guys that's probably the more fun to watch in the NFL, and it's been so much fun to watch him do what he's been doing in Buffalo. It'll be an exciting opportunity for me to go head-to-head with him. I don't know Josh personally but looking forward to the opportunity to maybe talk to him after the game or something. [I've got] A lot of respect for his game and just how he plays the game. He's tough. You can tell he is a great leader and it's a lot of fun watching him."
On how they make halftime adjustments:
"Like you said, it's not much time. As soon as we get in there, the coaches are getting together and talking about their adjustments and then us players, we're kind of talking about anything that we're seeing and then we kind of all come together. EB gets us all together and we just talk about our plan. We talk about the plays that we like coming up in the second half and we talk about what our approach is going to be going against the defense in the second half and what we're expecting to call in that first drive and if we are going to take some shots in the second half, what kind of shot plays we're talking about calling. Getting on the same page and kind of just having a plan, that's the main thing. I think EB has done a really good job of making sure we're coming back out at halftime with a plan and it's worked so far."
On managing emotions pre-snap when he likes the play call:
"It's an exciting feeling, man. It's kind of hard to describe, like when you get one of those plays called and you see the defense and you know you're going to have a chance. You just got to relax in the moment and try not to get too excited and just try to execute. It's a good feeling man. When you have one of those down the field plays called and you come out and you know the look you're looking for and you know you have that look, then it's just a matter of executing."
On if the questionable hits against him in Week 1 and TE Logan Thomas in Week 2 galvanizes them in the moment:
"It definitely does. Obviously, we don't want any of our teammates to be taken out like that. It's definitely not the right way to play the game. At the end of the day, it just makes us come together more as a team and we have each other's back. Obviously, in the game every single time that someone does something like that, we're going to have each other's back as you guys have probably seen. That's just who we are. We're a close group of guys that's always going to look out for one another. I just think those hits are just unacceptable, especially in the NFL."
On if there is a mental or emotional boost from explosive plays:
"I think for sure. I think when you can get those big chunk plays, it just kind of gives the offense more momentum, more energy. You kind of get the defense on their heels. That's definitely something that every good offense, they always have a lot of explosive plays. You have to get less first downs when you do that. It's easier to drive down the field. When you have to take three plays to get a first down and drive down the field that way it's easy to not score points just because you have to be so perfect and you can't make any mistakes. Definitely when you have those big explosive plays and chunk plays, it makes it easier for an offense."
On if there is a similarity to all of their explosive plays or if they are each different:
"I think they're different. That's the best part about this offense is explosive plays can come at any time and they can come from any player. We spread the ball around, we give a lot of different looks and align in a lot of different formations and have a lot of different route concepts, so you really never know when they're going to come. Definitely in this offense there's a lot of ability for those plays to happen."
On if he can anticipate Bieniemy's play calls and if he talks with Bieniemy and Pritchard to add plays he likes into the gameplan:
"I would say in the games after every drive we talk on the sideline about what we're going to call the next drive. I kind of have a good idea of what he's going to call when I'm out there. Then as far as my input, I have a lot of input as far as ranking the plays on the call sheet in order of how I would like them called. Just letting him know my comfort level with the plays and certain plays I like in a certain area of the field or a certain area of the game. We have a lot of communication and that's one of my favorite things about playing for EB is he cares a lot about what I think and what I'm comfortable with. All that stuff's been very good."
On how the Commanders defensive line has made him better:
"We have one of, if not the best D-line in the NFL, and those guys are really good and it makes it tough on our O-line and tough on me. I have to really be on time with my feet and my eyes and my decision making and when something's not there, I got to find my check down really fast or just find an incompletion. That's obviously an area of my game where I'm still trying to improve on. Just trying to find those incompletions and not taking sacks, especially in field goal range. I put [Kicker] Joey [Slye] in a hard spot a couple times in the game. But yeah, going against our defense has definitely prepared us for what we go for on Sundays."