“It’s Dwayne’s world now,” Williams said, laughing.
But it was more than symbolic, the sight of these two together. Williams, who has moved from being the team’s senior vice president of player personnel to its senior VP of player development, is an important voice for Haskins, who showed promise at the end of a tumultuous rookie year. The Redskins’ new coach, Ron Rivera, has made clear in public statements that Haskins has to mature quickly and become a leader. Williams seems the perfect voice to have Haskins’s ear.
“I think that’s what Dwayne has to do to show them, ‘I’m here, I’m the leader, this is my team, I’m the starter, and I’m going to show you why I’m going to be the starter,’ ” Williams said after the Redskins Charitable Foundation’s Qatar National Day of Sport, which was held in conjunction with D.C. United, the Washington Spirit and the Embassy of Qatar.
“Lets be fair; the new coaching staff knows at this point Dwayne Haskins is the starting quarterback,” Williams continued. “The only thing that can happen here is Dwayne has to give it back to them. So it’s up to him to go out there and work in this offseason and learn the playbook and get the coaches and sit down and wear the coaches out. He’s got to stay at the facility until they run him out of the building.”
Both of last year’s coaches, Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan, sent some variation of this message during the season, as did the previous offensive coordinator, Kevin O’Connell. But perhaps not as forcefully as Williams, who seems fond of Haskins and raves that “the kid has so much talent it’s unbelievable.”
Haskins, who has been criticized by several in the organization for not spending as much time as they hoped studying plays and absorbing the offense, appeared to adjust to those complaints in the second half of the season — something that was reflected in his play when he won two games in his final five starts and nearly rallied the Redskins to victories in two others.
On Friday, he said he has met several times with Rivera and feels he is building a bond with the new coach. Many of those talks, Haskins said, have been less about football and more about life, which he says he appreciates. He also noticed that Rivera has been careful in his news conferences not to anoint him the starter, saying he will compete with Alex Smith for the starting job should Smith recover enough from the complications of a gruesome 2018 leg injury to fight for the spot.
“That’s cool,” Haskins said. “I’m just going to have to work hard and eventually take it over. Just do your best to be accountable for what you have to do and be ready to go.”
Haskins said he took a few days off after the season to rest his body and started football workouts only a few days ago. In addition to meeting with Rivera and new offensive coordinator Scott Turner, he has been in contact with the team’s wide receivers and wants to take the group on a short bonding vacation — an idea he picked up from Tom Brady.
“Just master the playbook as much as I can; getting bigger, faster, stronger; and just getting with my teammates and working on some routes with my receivers and getting ready for the season,” Haskins said when asked his plans for the coming weeks before the Redskins’ offseason workouts begin.
He said he had talked about Rivera to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton as well as other players who know his new coach, and he was excited by what they told him.
“He’s a great dude, I hear from everybody else,” Haskins said. “He’s a fantastic coach. I’m looking forward to getting to know him [as a coach], but as a person, everything that we’ve done so far I’m really excited about.”
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