Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels provides five takeaways from Doug Williams's press conference at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
1. This is the best roster he's seen since arriving here.
Since he joined the Redskins staff in 2014 as a personnel executive, this team's roster, in Williams's estimation, is the best he's ever seen.
He's excited about the way the Redskins improved over the offseason and began listing the reasons for his optimism, starting with the new faces on defense.
"I think the secondary, with Fabian [Moreau] being healthy now and [Kendall] Fuller has got a year up under his belt along with the two guys that are starting, and with D.J. Swearinger coming in here, I certainly think that the secondary is much improved from last year," Williams said. "The offensive line is what it is. I think Terrelle Pryor and when [Josh] Doctson gets healthy – he was having a good offseason – and with Jamison Crowder, the receiving corps, it's going to be up to our quarterback getting the ball to the guys like he did last year. I think that's the most important thing."
2. He loves watching the battles in the trenches.
When asked if there were any surprises for him at training camp, Williams shook his head.
"After watching these guys in the offseason, and with [Defensive Line Coach Jim] Tomsula coming in and watching him, I really believe we've got two coaches of the same type of coaches on different sides of the ball," Williams said. "We've got [Offensive Line Coach Bill] Callahan and we've got Tomsula. Those are the same two guys. It's all about fundamentals. It's all about being tough, and it's about a lot of work. And when you see the 1-on-1's, that's the most exciting part of practice because they get their reps. They go against each other and you can see them getting better each time."
The line matchups have been a popular drill to watch throughout the last couple of weeks. Williams noted what it's like to watch Trent Williams face pass rushers such as Junior Galette and Anthony Lanier II, and his excitement to seeing them get better. He also says to believe the hype around Jonathan Allen.
"I think when you look at this team as a whole, in the trenches has gotten a lot better not only because of the players that are here [but] the coaches, too," Williams said. "And Jonathan Allen is the guy that he was hyped up to be. When you watch him, as soon as he learns the pro game and using his hands a little better, I think he's going to be a beast in there. Once he gets his body into you, nine out of 10, he's going to win."
3. Nobody's more confident than Trent Williams.
That is what Williams perceives now that Cousins enters his third season as the full-time starter. He chose to play on the franchise tag for a second straight season and has some good experience to feel like he made the right decision.
"He knows what he's done the last two years," Williams said. "And the way I look at that, I don't think he's going to do no worse this year than what he did the last two years because the offense is what he's played in for the last two years, I think he's got a good rapport with the head coach [and] the quarterbacks coach. And Kirk is not a guy that is hard to get along with. The players like him. I think at the end of the day, that's what it's all about, it's about leadership."
The Washington Redskins defense and special teams conducted their twelfth day of training camp practice Saturday, August 12, 2017 at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
Williams also explained that the comfort level between a quarterback and head coach is a fundamental ingredient to being successful. Noting the relationship between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, he believes the time between Cousins and Gruden as extremely valuable.
"I think when you look at Kirk being in this system for the last three years and playing well the last two, I think that speaks volume for him and the organization and the coach who feels comfortable calling whatever they want to call with Kirk because they know that he can get it done," he said.
4. Training camp has been a unique experience in his new role.
As Senior Vice President of Player Personnel, Williams is more invested in the day to day composition of the roster, "getting the opportunity to sit down with the head coach and the guys that work in the personnel department to setup workouts and talk about the players and talk about how we have got them slotted on the roster, and who should probably make this team," he said.
As he's gained a little more control over the operations, Williams isn't ready to make any excuses either. Despite the team's loss in the preseason opener, he knows that every team has the same amount of time to prepare and the same rules in regards to tackling.
The Washington Redskins offense conducted their twelfth day of training camp practice Saturday, August 12, 2017 at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
The physicality of his playing days he'd rather not compare in order to provide reasons why the team might not compete at a certain level. He used safety D.J. Swearinger as an example of why he's not worried about players being able to perform when needed.
"I watch D.J. Swearinger, who I feel like has brought a lot of swag to this defense," Williams said. "There's no doubt in my mind you don't have to tell him that when the game starts that you have got to tackle, that this is tackle football. And I think once he gets out there, you're going to get a lot of guys that are probably going to follow D.J. and I think that's what we need and he's here hopefully to lead us down that path."
5. He's not focusing on any position groups as he looks to improve the overall roster.
It will take a couple more preseason games for Williams to see exactly what the roster brings to the field. That will let Williams, and the coaching staff, see the starting offense and defense for more than just a few drives.
"And that's when we start calling teams and doing things and wondering, 'Do they have this?' or what have you," Williams said. "That's if you have a guy in that position. I think this week is going to help us kind of detail that and where we are, where we would like to be, and what we might need to get there."
As for upgrades, Williams doesn't believe he has any positions in mind. He is simply looking forward to how certain groups and units perform together on the field.
"I think talent-wise, we've got talent at every position," he said. "We want to see what guys as a group function well together and what we need to do to get it to function that way if they don't."