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The case for Sam Howell to make his first Pro Bowl

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Sam Howell stood at the Denver Broncos' 40-yard line surveying his options before spotting Terry McLaurin sprinting across the field.

With a flick of the wrist, he slung the pass towards the 2022 Pro Bowler, who had two defenders surrounding him in the end zone. It was a tight window for McLaurin to make a play, but he made the grab with a leap and celebrated the game-tying score.

Plays like that are why the Washington Commanders see so much promise in the fifth-round pick from North Carolina. He might be sacked more than any other quarterback in the league and make the second more turnover-worthy plays (22), but his highs put him among the best signal-callers playing today. There's even some hope that Washington's two-decade search for a long-term answer at the position might be over.

There was plenty of hope for Howell at the start of the 2023 season, but the former Tar Heel has performed above expectations with3 3,466 yards and 18 touchdowns. That's why you should vote Howell to his first Pro Bowl, **HERE.** Then, come back to read about his accomplishments and vote for him again.

"The kid has some stuff to him," said assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. "I love what he brings to the table on and off the field."

Ron Rivera said earlier in the season that Howell was "a little bit ahead" where they anticipated he would be at this stage in his development, partly because of how much the Commanders have had to throw the ball to stay competitive in games. The Commanders throw the ball more than any team in the league, and Howell's 509 pass attempts are the most among all quarterbacks.

While that is a lot to put on a player with less than a season's worth of starts, Howell has managed to handle the situation well enough, despite his growing pains in other areas like holding the ball for too long. With four games left on the Commanders' schedule, he is second in passing yards (3,466) and 14th in completion rate (65.8%).

Analysts, coaches and players have praised him for his poise in the pocket as well the stats that he has put up -- he has thrown for at least 300 yards in five games -- but Howell doesn't look too much into his individual stats. Instead, he's more focused on how he can help the Commanders win more games.

"We just got to try to take it one week at a time and...I think we've played alright the past few weeks, [but it] doesn't mean we're going to play alright this week," Howell said. "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."

There are moments when Howell shows that his development is far from over, but there have also been plays that show just how high his ceiling can be. One week after tossing four interceptions against the Bills, he completed 29 of his 41 passes attempts for 290 yards and a touchdown that tied the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at the end of regulation.

"I see growth from Sam every week," said running back **Brian Robinson Jr.** "That's something we speak about and we work on. I expect to see him continue to grow week-in and week-out."

There are other plays from Howell that have shown how pivotal he has been to any success the Commanders have had on offense. One of his best plays came against the New England Patriots, when he slipped through a pair of defenders on his way to converting a third-and-24. After the game, Howell's teammates called it "a hell of a play."

"He makes big plays when we need them the most," **Jahan Dotson** said. "That long third-down conversion run, that was big for us. We needed that."

Check out the best photos from Sam Howell's 2023 season. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

He did something similar against the Miami Dolphins. With all of his options covered, Howell took off and weaved through the Dolphins' defense on his way to a 13-yard rushing touchdown -- his fifth of the season.

"He's showing some crazy stuff," Sam Cosmi said. "He's really developed. You can see from the beginning of the year to now, I mean, it's just like, wow. The thing that's really cool to see, he's like taking the coaching and he's putting it out there."

Howell is currently 10th in fan voting for the Pro Bowl, so do the young quarterback a favor and vote him in. He's more than deserving of the honor.

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