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Commanders Training Camp 3 To Watch: Quarterbacks

With Training Camp around the corner, we profile three Washington quarterbacks, and what we’re looking to see out of each one

Quarterback is the most important position on an NFL roster, and the Washington Commanders are no different just because they’re a defensive minded team.

Everyone expected Washington to go seek an improvement at the position after inconsistency plagued the team in crucial moments during the 2021 season, and they did just that.

After a swing and a miss on Russell Wilson who ended up with the Denver Broncos, the Commanders rescued Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts, where he clearly didn’t fit.

As we begin our training camp profile series we’ll start by looking at three of the four guys playing for roster spots at the most important position of them all.

And we’ll start with the guy brought in to put the team back on track.

Carson Wentz

We’ve discussed Wentz’s history at length, but let’s look ahead to what Washington needs from its quarterback.

This team is still mainly fortified on the defensive side of the ball, and that’s the personality we expect to see.

This means of run game and short or screen passes to try and get yards with the ball in someone’s hands, not in the air.

Of course, air yards will come as well, but it’s imperative that when those opportunities arise, Wentz minimizes putting the ball in danger.

This includes holding into it so long that coverage sacks become a routine hinderance to the Commanders’ offensive momentum.

In his career, Wentz has less than a two percent interception rate, but twice has eclipsed that pace in a single season. Each of those predictably ended in losing seasons for his team.

Wentz has also only had one season where he was sacked fewer than 30 times. 

That year was 2017. 

With the ball in his hands and when he puts it in the air, a safer and smarter version of Wentz is the ideal one.

That’s what we need to see, when training camp begins, and into preseason action.

Taylor Heinicke

Washington’s second quarterback has a career 3.9 percent interception rate after three percent of his passes were picked off in 17 games (16 starts) in 2021.

You can look at that very number more than any when pondering why the Commanders made adding a quarterback such a high priority thus offseason.

There are some parts of Heinicke’s game that the team will just have to accept. But the other areas, like timing on throws and trajectory of the ball, can and need to be improved.

If the starting quarterback is the most important player on the team, then the backup is one snap from being him. 

We saw a glimpse of that last year, and if that same image were to replay in 2022, it’s going to be another long year for Washington football fans.

Sam Howell (R)

Perhaps the best thing to happen to Howell was sliding into Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft, even if it may not seem like it up front.

Now, Howell will get a chance to establish his NFL legs before being thrust into the spotlight; or such is the hope of Commanders fans everywhere. 

Which is even better given the amount of learning required to fully execute offensive coordinator Scott Turner’s playbook. 

Instead of worrying about saving a fledgling franchise, we’re looking for Howell to simply get more comfortable with some mechanics he never had to execute at North Carolina, and show some flashes of why he was once considered a first round lock.

The Washington Commanders don’t have a lot of questions pertaining to the quarterback depth chart, but there’s plenty to look for from this trio as training camp gets started.

And don’t forget about undrafted rookie Cole Kelley who would gladly be a surprise standout from the preseason.