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Sam Howell | 'Obviously the sack problem is definitely an issue and we want to try to avoid that'

Screenshot 2023-10-25 at 12.22.02 PM

Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell addressed the media before practice on Oct. 25. Here is a full transcript of the press conference.

On if he has talked to other quarterbacks about taking hits:
"Yeah, I mean, I think I've leaned a lot on [QB] Jacoby [Brissett] who's here as far as what he does to kind of get his body back and ready to go. Then as far as trying to avoid the sacks, yeah, just talking to him, talking to my coaches. I think we have a good feel for how I can do my part as far as avoiding the sacks, it's just a matter of me going out there and trying to grow in that area each and every week. I feel like I have made progress in that area. I think I'm doing a better job getting rid of the football, obviously, we still got to do a better job and do different things to prevent those sacks. But yeah, I mean, everyone's trying to do their part for sure."

On making adjustments based on watching his sacks on tape:
"Yeah, for sure. It's one of those things where we want to, obviously the sack problem is definitely an issue and we want to try to avoid that and try to limit those numbers. But at the same time, I still want to go out there and play how I'm coached to play and still keep my eyes downfield and be able to locate those guys and not be too worried about the rush and let those guys up front do their job. There's definitely a balance of trying to avoid sacks, but also trying to still play quarterback for sure."

On what from the tape did not work against the Giants:
"I just think we started too slow and we didn't execute well enough in the first half to give ourselves a chance. Obviously, we did some good things in the second half, which gave us a chance to win the game. We had so many chances there on that last drive to score a touchdown and so that one definitely hurts. But the best part about this league is we have another opportunity this week, a good Philly team and we had a good battle with them last time. So hopefully, we'll do a good job this week as far as preparation goes and go out there Sunday and try to put our best foot forward."

On the drawbacks of rolling out of the pocket:
"When you kind of go out there on the perimeter, it limits what all you can do as far as like route combinations and stuff like that where you kind of got to have the right look to run those types of plays. It's harder to get the right look every single time. Obviously, we did a good job in the game and we were seeing a lot of man coverage, so we kind of knew a lot of those route combinations would be good. But it's just kind of a throughout the game thing, you like to sprinkle in some movements every now and then just to try to keep the defense off balance. We know it's something that we can get to if we ever need a positive play for sure."

On if he feels WR Terry McLaurin should be targeted more in the first half:
"I mean, like it wasn't after the game where I noticed that, I noticed it throughout the game. I noticed who's getting the ball and who's not getting the ball and for me, obviously, I try to execute the play how I'm coached to execute the play. Obviously, we didn't get off to a good start and didn't get to a rhythm early on and weren't able to sustain drives. So, that's going to limit everybody's targets. We just got to do a better job sustaining drives early on and we've done that in some games. Then, in a few games, we've gotten ourselves in a hole in the first half. It's hard when you're out there going three-and-out a few times, it's hard to get everybody involved and it's hard to feature one guy on the offense. Obviously, Terry's a great player and I think everyone saw when we are able to get more opportunities and be able to run more plays and sustain drives, we can get him to the ball more and let him do what he does. But it's just one of those things that we just got to do a better job early on in games just starting fast and sustaining those drives and when we sustain drives, it creates more opportunities for everybody."

On what challenges the Philadelphia Eagles defense brings:
"Yeah, they're good. The Eagles [are] definitely one of the best defenses in the league. I think they're the best defense against the run so far this year, and I think they're probably fifth or sixth against the pass. I could be wrong, but I think those are the right numbers. But they're doing a good job and they're doing a good job up front, obviously they have all those guys up front and I could sit here all day and name all those guys that they have. They have so much talent up there up front, and they have good players in the secondary, everyone's kind of starting to get back healthy and then they just signed [S Kevin Byard] the guy from Tennessee [Titans] who's a good player. So they definitely have all the players they need to be successful and they've been playing really well on defense the past few weeks. We'll definitely have our hands full."

On successes from the Week 4 matchup against the Eagles:
"Yeah, I mean, it's hard, you can kind of get into the whole, like, what do we think they're going to do differently? What should we do differently? But I think the main thing is whatever our plan is, we just got to execute it. No matter kind of, if they want to make any adjustments or anything, then we'll be ready for that and we'll be ready to adjust. We're going to go into the game with however [Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy] EB feels and we just got to execute. That's what it comes down to."

On how to keep the relationship strong between him and the offensive line as things get tough:
"I think it just comes down to we're all in this together. We have a lot of conversations about what we feel like we need to do and obviously the sack issue is what it is and we're all trying to fix it and we're all trying to do everything we can. We're all trying to do our part. I think the first way to solve that is everyone has to acknowledge what they need to do better. I think we have that in our room and we have that in our offense and everyone's acknowledging different ways that we can help each other out. That's the first thing. Then just trying to continue to communicate, continue to be on the same page and just continue to have those open conversations about what we think we can do better to give each other more of a chance. We have such great guys in that offensive line room and great coaches. We definitely have the pieces. We just got to continue to grow and continue to get better each and every week."

On if he is eager to get the run game going to add balance to the offense:

"Yeah, I think every quarterback would say a good running game would help them for sure. Just because I think everyone knows if you're running the ball well, then it opens up more stuff in the passing game. I think most teams probably go into every single game hoping to have a good balance of run and pass, and everyone wants to establish the running game because everything is built off of that. Some games it's easier than others and some games it just doesn't happen and you're forced to throw the ball more than you'd like to. At the end of the day, you still got to go out there and make plays and try to make it happen. I think every offense would say they go into every single game trying to establish the running game just because it helps the o-line out, it helps the quarterback out, it helps the receivers have more space. It just helps everybody when you're able to have that balance."

On how he approaches frustration in the locker room as the leader of the team:

"I try to make sure my guys have the right mindset as far as coming into work this week. Obviously, everyone's emotional after the game and everyone's frustrated and you want people to feel that way. You want people to be frustrated after losing to a team that we feel like we should have beat. We've lost a few games this year that we felt like we should have won and people should be frustrated. At the same time, that frustration needs to turn into coming in here with the right mindset and ready to work and ready to move on to the next opponent. I think the guys have done a good job of that. I'll continue to try to lead my offense and make sure everyone has the right mindset each and every day and is approaching things the right way. We have great leadership from the coaches, great leaders on the team as far as players. I think we have the right mindset going into this week."

On if he feels any pressure from Head Coach Ron Rivera as a developing quarterback:

"I don't really look at anything like that. Obviously our record is what it is, but we have 10 football games left to play and that's the way I look at it. I try to keep a positive mindset because at the end of the day, we control our own destiny. We're 3-4 with 10 games to play, and that's a lot of football. A lot can happen in those 10 games and we feel really good about our chances if we continue to get better and do our job each and every week. I feel like we still have yet to play a complete game on both sides of the ball. I think we've shown flashes on defense. Our defense is playing really well right now, and early on in the season we were doing some good things and put some good games together on offense. I think it's the more we can come together and play a complete game as a team. I think we can beat anybody in this league. It's just a matter of trying to do that on a consistent basis. We definitely feel good about our chances moving forward."

On if it gets tiring having similar sack numbers week after week:

"Obviously, it's continuing to happen and we're trying hard each and every week to try to avoid those on Sundays, but it is what it is. Obviously, we're trying to do all the right things to correct the issue. Obviously, we have yet to solve it. It's kind of been something different each and every game. Some of the same things keep coming up, but obviously it is a problem and it's something that as soon as if we fix it, our offense will be much better. It is definitely something, obviously, I think everyone's kind of tired of hearing about it. I think obviously it's you guys' job to keep talking about it and it's our job to fix it. That's the reality of it. All I try to do is try to come in here each and every day and try to look at the ways that we can do a better job in protection and how I can do a better job of getting rid of the football."

On how close the offense is to being consistently good:

"I think we're really close. I think the fact that we've already shown we can get there says a lot. I think we've shown what our potential is. We've shown the standard that we want to play at. It's just a matter of each and every week of going into the game and executing the plan, everyone doing their job. I think the more we play, the more we'll continue to grow and get better. Obviously, we'd like to play at our standard each and every week. We know in this league it's not going to happen each and every week, but you definitely should never lose a game when the defense gives up 14 points. I think that's the reality of it, and we just got to try to do our part and help our defense out. There's definitely a standard, and I think we've shown that standard a few times this year. That's definitely the standard that we chase every single time we step out on the field on Sundays."

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