The Washington Commanders are one of the few teams in the NFL that have a quarterback competition to watch in preseason action.
On Friday versus Cleveland, Washington started quarterback Sam Howell over veteran Jacoby Brissett. Howell had the better statistical night overall, completing 9 of 12 passes for 77 yards, a touchdown and a 119.1 passer rating in three drives, leading to a 17-15 win over the Browns. Brissett played in four drives, going 6 of 10 for 75 yards, an interception and a 43.8 passer rating against his former team.
After the game, Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said he was "encouraged" by Howell's performance.
"Very encouraged. A lot of good things," Rivera said of the second-year quarterback, via team transcript. "I thought he threw some really good balls. I thought his decision-making was what you want. He looked to have command of things. It was good to see him get into a rhythm. Again, a good positive start for our guys."
Before the start of organized team activities, Rivera stated Howell would start offseason workouts as the Commanders' top quarterback. However, Rivera later said that doesn't necessarily mean Howell will end up as the official QB1.
After Washington allowed a safety early on, Howell started the second quarter with a 10-play drive, finishing it off by delivering a dart to Jahan Dotson, who managed to gather his feet and sidestep between two defenders for a 26-yard touchdown.
With Howell's night over, former Browns QB Brissett was back in familiar territory. The veteran signal-caller showcased a little bit of everything in his first drive under center, with some rushes, short passes and a deep pass to Byron Pringle for a 32-yard reception. Brissett capped off the drive with a 12-yard scramble TD.
"It felt good," Brissett said of his touchdown. "I thought we did a lot of good things on that drive. Felt really good about our plan going into the game when I was going in. Guys did a good job executing."
With 17 seconds left in the second quarter, Brissett tried to make a highlight throw by heaving a deep ball down the middle towards Pringle. However, the ball was underthrown and intercepted by Ronnie Hickman. In his final series during the third quarter, Brissett completed two passes that led to a Joey Slye field goal.
"Getting in and out of the huddle," Brissett said regarding his takeaways from the game. "Going against another defense. Trying to figure out where to put your eyes at on a consistent basis and things like that. I think that is the main thing with preseason."
With one contest checked off, Washington has two preseason games left to evaluate the QB competition, with the Commanders next hosting the Baltimore Ravens on Aug. 21.
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