Doug Williams is in constant contact with Dwayne Haskins. He doesn't try to coach the young quarterback -- that's not his job, and it never was -- but he's not afraid to tell Haskins if he thinks he needs to do something different on and off the field.
With Ron Rivera and his new coaching staff now at Redskins Park, Williams has some advice for Haskins: "work in the offseason and learn the playbook, get with the coaches, sit down and wear the coaches out."
"He's got to stay in the facility until they run him out of the building," Williams said at the Qatar National Day of Sport event in Washington D.C. on Feb. "That's the important thing. All that other stuff shouldn't matter to Dwayne at this point. It should be, 'Coach, what can I do? Can I do this? Can I do that?' until they say, 'Hey, Dwayne, we're gonna turn the lights out because we're going home.'"
Williams believes Haskins has "a long ways to go," but he liked the way Haskins progressed in his rookie year. His play was sporadic since his debut in Week 4 against the New York Giants, but he improved in each game to the point where Williams said he was "ascending" by the end of the year. In his last six quarters, Haskins completed about 72% of his passes for 394 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Haskins was only 2-5 as a starter, but his last two full games against the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles, both of whom were playoff teams in 2019, were decided by 10 points or fewer.
"He was doing what we expected him to do," Williams said. "And hopefully where he is now, he can keep going up, and I think he's up to the task."
While Rivera also likes what he has seen out of Haskins, he does not plan on simply giving him the starting job. He wants Haskins to earn it.
"I think he can become a franchise-style quarterback," Rivera said of Haskins in his introductory press conference. "It's a process, though. I'm not going to say it's going to happen overnight. What we're trying to do right now is to develop that plan for his development as we go forward."
Rivera and his coaching staff are currently trying to "set his core" of players to build around, and Haskins is a candidate to be one of them. Rivera has also said the team doesn't have answer at quarterback yet but that there are two options in Haskins and presumably Alex Smith, who is still recovering from a broken leg he suffered in 2018.
Should Smith make a return for the 2020 season, which is "no doubt" still his goal, that would likely mean he and Haskins would be competing to be the team's starting quarterback. Williams believes the new coaching staff sees Haskins as the starter right now, but they're "not married to him," either, meaning Rivera isn't going to rule anything out.
"He has to look at it from that standpoint," Williams said. "It's about what he does, and he has all the ability to do what any coach will want [him] to do."
Haskins, who has already had several conversations with Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner, said he is looking forward to whomever he competes against during training camp.
"I'm all for competition. At Ohio State, we competed every day," Haskins said at the Qatar National Day of Sport event in Washington D.C. "And I'm looking forward to whoever is there. I'm just really excited for the opportunity to lead these guys and not only be a great player, but a leader as well."
Williams said "there is nothing like walking in the dressing room and out of the dressing room knowing you're the man." He wants to see Haskins show that he deserves that, and the best way to do so is through repetition.
"Keep doing it over and over," Williams said. "I think that's what Dwayne has to do to let them know that I'm here, I'm the leader, this is my team ... I'm the starter and I want to show you why I should be starting."
Given all the coaching changes and organizational shifts that have occurred since Haskins was drafted, Williams doesn't feel like Haskins had the opportunity for coaches to "put their arms around him." He wants Haskins to know the team believes in him, and that could happen with this new coaching staff.
"The kid's got so much ability, it's unbelievable," he said. "I think now with the new staff coming in and what he did towards the end of the year, it's gonna give that new staff the opportunity to say, 'Hey, we need to work with this kid to get the best out of him.'"
With Williams now in charge of player development rather than personnel, he doesn't have a say in what the coaching staff will do with Haskins. His new position might work out for the best, though, because now he can have a more direct relationship with the young quarterback than ever before.
Regardless of how far Williams believes Haskins has until he becomes one of the league's top quarterbacks, he believes Haskins has the ability to get there.
And if he first has to compete to be the team's starting quarterback, Haskins is cool with that.
"I'm just gonna have to work hard and eventually take it over. You just have to do your best to be accountable for what you have to do and be ready to go."