Sold-out Cards-Commanders game features quirky QB clash

Sold-out Cards-Commanders game features quirky QB clash


History of sorts will be made Sunday when the Washington Commanders host the Arizona Cardinals in Landover, Md.

Following the departure of Dan Snyder as owner and the arrival of new leader Josh Harris, the game is sold out.

On the field, fans will be watching two quarterbacks who have an unprecedented low level of NFL experience for a season opener.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this will be only the second time since 1970 that a Week 1 game features two starting quarterbacks selected in the fourth round or later and who had 100 or fewer career pass attempts.

The Commanders will turn to Sam Howell, a fifth-round pick in 2022 who started the season finale — the only game he played that season. He completed 11 of 19 passes for 169 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 26-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cardinals are expected to start Joshua Dobbs, who was acquired in an Aug. 24 trade from the Cleveland Browns. He will have had five practices with the team prior to Sunday. Four days after the trade, the Cardinals released Colt McCoy.

First-year head coach Jonathan Gannon has refused to name a starter publicly even though the team knows who it will be, so there’s a chance rookie fifth-round pick Clayton Tune will get the call.

Dobbs originally was a fourth-round choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017, but in his six NFL seasons has played eight games (two starts) in the final two games of the 2022 season for the Tennessee Titans. He has 85 career pass attempts, with 68 coming in his two starts after being signed on Dec. 21.

“Ironically, it’s happened twice for me in the last nine months. It’s a unique process,” Dobbs said. “The quickest thing you can do is get the logistics of the offense, understand the play calls, getting in and out of the huddle, learning teammates’ names and faces, communicate with them and then just be yourself.”

The Commanders signed eight-year veteran Jacoby Brissett from the Browns as an unrestricted free agent in March. In explaining the decision to start Howell, head coach Ron Rivera said, “He and Jacoby are at two different points in their career. To me, the guy who’s ascending, growing into it, compared to the guy who’s already there, you got to look at that.”

For historical perspective, Steve Beuerlein started for the then-Los Angeles Raiders and Babe Laufenberg for the then-San Diego Chargers on Sept. 4, 1988. Beuerlein was a fourth-round pick and Laufenberg a sixth, and both had no pass attempts prior to that game.

While the quarterbacks will be on center stage, the Cardinals have also undergone a roster makeover and front-office shift following a 4-13 season in 2022. The roster includes 11 rookies, 28 players who weren’t with the team in 2022 and 44 players in their first three years of NFL experience.

The Commanders were 8-8-1 last season, one game behind the 9-7-1 New York Giants, who joined NFC East rivals Philadelphia and Dallas in the playoffs.

While quarterbacks always take center stage, a crucial matchup will be Arizona’s interior offensive line. It features new starters Elijah Wilkinson at left guard and center Hjalte Froholdt along with right guard Will Hernandez dealing with Commanders defensive tackles Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen.

Only two NFL defenses, Washington and Carolina, had multiple players with at least 16 tackles for loss in 2022. Payne had 18 and Allen 16.

An injury issue swirls around Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin (toe) and defensive end Chase Young (neck), who were both limited in practice Wednesday.

For the Cardinals, wide receiver Marquise Brown (hamstring) and tight end Zach Ertz (knee) were limited on Wednesday. Ertz sustained a torn ACL in Week 12 last season against the Los Angeles Rams.

—Field Level Media


Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.