defense is going to play a Cover-2, you need both safeties in deep pass coverage, not one. You need both safeties to recognize what's happening, not just one.
So the Cowboys' response was to draft Watkins in the fifth round, and in training camp and preseason it became readily apparent Watkins, but a rookie, had a big upside. Parcells decided he had the guts to start a raw rookie at free safety on the road in the opener.
Maybe that was a good thing, because Williams' responsibility quotient went up.
"But I think it's been a benefit to Roy, really," Parcells said of pairing his Pro Bowl safety with a rookie. "He's kind of like halfway paying attention to what he's doing and then he's doing a little babysitting. Well, he was the baby for a while. Darren was doing that for him."
This, though, has been what everyone has been waiting for from Williams:
- Second-and-10 from the Jacksonville 48, Jaguars tight end George Wrightster comes out running a wheel route, basically an out pattern the receiver then curls up field, hoping to lure the defensive back into biting on the out part. Well, Williams, as if he knew what was coming, simply continued curling up field with Wrightster, leaving Byron Leftwich no room to fit the pass in along the right sideline. Interception at the 28 for Williams.
- Third-and-nine from the Dallas 21 in the third quarter with Dallas leading, 17-10, Washington decides to go for the tying touchdown, sending H-Back Chris Cooley out of the backfield on a wheel route left. Aaron Glenn, shadowing Cooley, first had to fight through a pick from the wide receiver in the slot to jump on Cooley going down the left sideline. Now the slot receiver went up the field, angling to the right. Williams, though, sensing what was about to happen and knowing he had free-safety help to the receiver's side, ignored him and rotated over to his right to help Glenn at the goal line, where he made the leaping interception to snuff out the Redskins' drive.
"He made a good play," Glenn said, and when asked about Williams taking care of Watkins back there, he said, "I think he's doing a dang good job of that."
Or listen to Davis, last year's starting free safety who is concentrating more on special teams this year, but still playing a little safety in place of the rookie Watkins at times.
"I think he's seeing things better than last year," Davis said of Williams' recent success in pass coverage. "He'd get locked in, but this year he's better prepared and seeing things. When he had Woody out there, who was so in control out there, (Williams) just had to line up and play.
"Now he understands the defense a little better. He's comfortable in any position (up or back)."
That's more like it.
And get this: When the Cowboys went to a variation of their nickel defense on first and second downs against Jacksonville's three-receiver sets, instead of taking a linebacker off the field to make room for Glenn they removed Watkins, thus leaving Williams in single safety back there playing centerfield.
Part not wanting to take Williams off the field, but part trust.
Now don't think opposing offenses will quit trying to bait Williams. They will still try to isolate him in coverage. They will still try to line up in formations to keep him from creeping toward the line of scrimmage.
But maybe, just maybe, what's taken place in the first two games will give those play-calling gurus something to think twice about. If not, maybe that to-die-for line of his expands.
And that's a good thing.