Caleb Williams’ Position Coach ‘a Strong Candidate’ to Become Commanders OC

Caleb Williams

Getty Caleb Williams' position coach at USC is "a strong candidate" to be the next offensive coordinator for the Washington Commanders.

Drafting Caleb Williams may be in the Washington Commanders’ sights, based on his position coach emerging as a “strong candidate” to be the team’s next offensive coordinator. Kliff Kingsbury, who served as Williams’ quarterbacks coach at USC, is firmly in the running after turning his back on a seemingly imminent move to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Kingsbury “recently interviewed for the vacant #Commanders OC job under new coach Dan Quinn. There are still more interviews to do, but Kingsbury is considered a strong candidate,” per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Moving to Washington would represent a u-turn for the former head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Kingsbury had appeared to set to join the Raiders as OC, but the 44-year-old opted to walk away from the negotiating table before a deal could be struck.

Rapoport’s colleague Peter Schrager reported “contract negotiations came undone in the last 24 hours and Kingsbury withdrew his name from consideration. He let multiple members of the Raiders organization he would not be joining the team yesterday.”

Kingsbury’s sudden availability is intriguing for the Commanders on a number of levels. Not least because of his relationship with Williams, who appears certain to be selected with one of the top two picks in the 2024 NFL draft.

The Commanders own the second-overall pick and have an obvious need for a franchise quarterback. A new regime fronted by head coach Dan Quinn might view hiring Kingsbury as laying the groundwork for the arrival of Washington, D.C. native Williams.

Kliff Kingsbury Has QB History the Commanders Need

The strength of Kingsbury’s candidacy must be based on his history developing gifted quarterbacks. He coached future two-time Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech in 2015 and ’16, before spending four seasons working with Kyler Murray for the Cards from 2019-22.

Not everybody’s impressed by the history, with “Locked on Arizona Cardinals Podcast” host Alex Clancy noting Kingsbury had a losing record with Mahomes.

Nonetheless, Mahomes did throw for 4,653 yards in 2015 and 5,052 yards a year later, per Sports Reference. Kingsbury’s ‘Air Raid’ offense allowed Mahomes to throw 77 touchdown passes during his final two seasons with the Red Riders.

Those numbers become even more exciting when paired with Kingsbury’s comparison between Mahomes and Williams. Kingsbury told Arlington Renegades head coach Bob Stoops how Williams is “eerily similar” to the two-time NFL MVP who’s guided the Kansas City Chiefs to four Super Bowls in six seasons.

Kingsbury unlocked Williams’ potential with the Trojans, but the Commanders may need to leapfrog the Chicago Bears to the first-overall pick to land the USC star.

Picking Caleb Williams Will Have a High Price

The Commanders will likely have to pay a high price if they’re determined to keep the Williams and Kingsbury partnership together. Chicago’s picking one spot ahead of them, and buzz at the 2024 Senior Bowl was the Bears intend to keep the pick.

That’s the word from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler: “Most people I talked to in Mobile expect the Chicago Bears to make the pick at No. 1, presumably for Williams.”

Yet, there are reasons the Bears could be tempted to trade down. Reasons like they still believe in Justin Fields or simply prefer North Carolina’s Drake Maye to Williams.

If the Bears want to deal, the Commanders make sense as a trade partner, especially if Kingsbury joins Quinn’s staff. The Kingsbury and Williams partnership yielded 3,633 yards and 30 touchdown passes during a season ESPN’s Jason Reid described as “a complete mess” for USC.

The only cause for concern with keeping this double act together comes from the last time Kingsbury worked with a No. 1 pick at quarterback. Murray was generally successful during four seasons under Kingsbury’s tutelage, but he never broke the 4,000-yard mark and only made the playoffs once.

Both Mahomes and Murray showed how gaudy statistics haven’t always equated to wins for Kingsbury’s quarterbacks. The Commanders could ease that concern by hiring another QB-focused, OC, with San Francisco 49ers’ starter Brock Purdy’s position coach in the mix.

Alternatively, having Kingsbury simply focus on calling plays means he won’t be setting the course for the whole team. That’s Quinn’s job, starting with getting the right people for the key positions on his staff.

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