As the reviews have come in on the Redskins following Sunday night’s win over the Dallas Cowboys, there’s been one thing that’s pretty much constant: praise for rookie left tackle Trent Williams.
His teammates were impressed, for example. Here’s Chris Cooley, fielding a question about Williams during his Monday appearance on 106.7’s The LaVar Arrington Show With Chad Dukes:
“Trent Williams is, bar none, the best athlete as an offensive lineman that I’ve seen since I’ve been in the league,” Cooley said. “The guy can move. It was funny: we were in Phoenix; none of us played, we just went out and ran, and then all the receivers ran routes with the quarterbacks. Trent Williams went out and ran routes with us. The dude can run routes. He’s probably as fast as me.”
(Don’t believe me? It’s in Podcast 3 here.)
That “probably as fast as me” sentiment was put to the test in Sunday’s game, as you can see in the video above.
In case you can’t watch the video and don’t remember the play: Williams is the lead downfield blocker on a screen pass to Cooley and, indeed, not only keeps up with Cooley but completely manhandles the safety. Here’s what former Stanford left tackle Ben Muth wrote about the play over on Football Outsiders:
Up next was the Trent Williams show featuring Chris Cooley. Cooley caught a tight end screen and ran for the first down. But the star of the play was Trent Williams, who pulled and blocked the safety all the way out of bounds. What makes the play so impressive is the fact that it is so hard for an offensive lineman to block defensive backs in open space like that. Usually, a defensive back will give a shoulder fake or simply hop around a big offensive tackle and leave him flailing at air. In fact, that scenario is so common that many offensive line coaches just teach their guys to cut in the open field with the idea being they have a better chance of hitting their defender — and even if they miss, the defender will at least have to jump over them, or stop his feet to avoid them. But to be athletic enough to lock onto a safety like Williams did without holding is really remarkable.
Muth rates Williams’s entire debut as a success, in fact. Here’s more from Muth:
Williams did a lot of things very well. He was great at the second level, and in space. He seems to have a very a natural talent of locking onto defenders off the line of scrimmage, a skill that very few offensive lineman really have. The most obvious example of this was on the screen pass to Chris Cooley in the first quarter where he pulled outside, locked onto a safety and drove him straight to the sideline. For the most part, he also did a tremendous job in pass protection.
(That’s actually a fascinating article all around, and full of compliments for the performance of the Redskins’ offensive line. I highly recommend reading the entire thing, not just these excerpts.)
Williams faces another tough test this week, in Texans’ former first-overall-pick Mario Wiliams. But everyone (including me) wrote the “tough matchup against DeMarcus Ware” articles last week, and as these reviews show, that game went pretty well.
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