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Kliff Kingsbury not out to prove himself as new Commanders OC: 'I do this because I enjoy the game'

Kliff Kingsbury's return to the NFL as an offensive coordinator comes with an expected catch.

He arrives in Washington with his most recent coaching stop coming at USC, where star quarterback Caleb Williams played the last two seasons, and now that Kingsbury has moved to the Commanders, most everybody wants an answer to the same question: Is Williams destined to follow his former assistant coach to the nation's capital?

Kingsbury declined to delve too deeply into the topic, even refraining from analyzing his former Trojans passer during Kingsbury's introductory press conference on Thursday.

"I don't want to break him down right now." Kingsbury said. "I'm still trying to evaluate our own roster and go through that. I mentioned I loved being around him. Tremendous person. I had fun at USC."

Williams does, however, have the traits Kingsbury identified as most desirable to work with at the NFL level. And with Washington sitting just behind Chicago in the 2024 NFL Draft order, many are wondering whether they might try to move up to take Williams -- especially if he fits what the play-caller wants in a signal-caller.

"The Chiefs quarterback," Kingsbury joked when asked what traits he seeks. … I do think the game, as you can see, you watch those guys, (49ers quarterback) Brock (Purdy) and him at the end. When money's on the table you've got to be able to make some plays with your feet. Move around enough to escape a bad play. It doesn't mean you've got to run like Lamar (Jackson) or Kyler Murray, but you better be able to move a little bit and buy yourself some time because the D-line the rush the defenses these days are so good. And the intangibles you want the player to be the hardest worker on your team."

For those keeping score, let's run down the checklist with Williams. Mobility? Check. Excellent arm? Check. Escapability? Check. And as Kingsbury already mentioned, Williams is a "tremendous person," which would seem to check off the hardest worker item, too.

Unlike his tenure in Arizona with Murray, Kingsbury's time in Washington won't hinge solely on adding Williams to the roster. Other talented quarterbacks will be available at No. 2 overall, should the Commanders stay there. And regardless of signal-caller, Kingsbury will still have the same job to execute: Turn Washington's offense into a competitive one.

Just don't expect him to fill a bulletin board with doubt along the way.

"I don't. That's not how I approach it," Kingsbury said when asked if he had a point to prove with his return to the NFL. "I do this because I enjoy the game. I enjoy the players, the mentorship. The Sundays. That type of competitive situation. I've never gotten into it to prove anybody wrong."

Washington took its first step into a new era by replacing Ron Rivera with former Cowboys defensive coordinator and Falcons coach Dan Quinn, bringing an experienced mind to that side of the ball. The offense, meanwhile, will be Kingsbury's responsibility.

After his tenure in Arizona went up in smoke, he's hoping his return to the pro game in a slightly lesser role will allow him to take the lessons he's learned from his time in both college and the NFL and apply them as effectively as possible.

"Being able to just focus on the offense will be great," Kingsbury said. "Dan has a bunch on his plate. I've sat in that seat. You're dealing with the entire picture. With me now it's focused on that group and trying to maximize who we are personnel-wise, staff-wise and being the best we can just in that area.

"To be able to back up and do that again is exciting. To put all of that focus just into that. I'm ready to get to work."

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