New Seahawks QB Sam Howell has time to grow into the eventual starter

Trust me, 12s; that time is not now

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Geno Smith shows how Sam Howell can be the guy

Speaking of Geno Smith, he provides some compelling evidence to see Howell as his successor. Like his new understudy, he suffered under a poor system in his first two seasons in the league. Howell made one start as a rookie, so he didn't quite have the baptism by fire that Geno endured in New York. But when you consider that Smith threw 21 picks and just 12 TDs in his first full season as a starter, those similarities start to crop up.

In his second year, Smith cut his interceptions to 13, but still only threw 13 touchdowns. His passer ratings and QBR for those two seasons look much like Howell's from last year: ratings of 66.5 and 77.5, and QBRs of 41.0 and 45.8. At least Sam Howell threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 21 scores. Sure, it's a different game 10 years later, but it's not that different.

Now I'm not suggesting that Smith had a normal career track. His path to the Pro Bowl was far from ordinary. It would be quite an achievement for Howell to match that growth. But he already has one thing in common with Smith: a lousy offensive coordinator. The Jets had Marty Mornhinweg as the OC. He built his reputation by standing around while Steve Young was QB for the Niners, then later watching Andy Reid coach the Eagles. Without them, he was awful.

And who was Howell's OC? The not-so-exceptional Scott Turner, only got the gig because his daddy, Norv Turner, managed to coach in the league for a thousand years. 15 seasons as a head coach, seven winning seasons. That's Norv's record. Scott's high water mark was the 20th-ranked offense. Howell's QB coach in Washington was the immortal quarterback whisperer Ken Zampese. In his 13 seasons as the Bengals QB coach, they cracked the top 10 in offense just five times. So it's not like he's had the best opportunity to learn. And who were his mentors as quarterbacks? Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke. I'm shocked Howell just didn't retire.

So maybe with decent coaching and a mentor who can actually teach him something, Sam Howell can be a success. He might look a bit more like the guy who has the second-highest career passer rating in the ACC. He might be the guy who threw for 3,000 yards and ran for 800 as a junior at North Carolina. The guy who accounted for 111 TDs in his three years in college. That guy, now could be the Hawks quarterback of the future. That's the Sam Howell that John Schneider sees.

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