Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ESPNDallas Watkins: Opportunities have escaped Dallas Cowboy receiver Roy Williams

IRVING, Texas -- The trade deadline is Tuesday, and the Dallas Cowboys don't seem to be players this season.

Last year at about this time, the Cowboys made a blockbuster deal, sending three draft picks -- including their 2009 first-rounder -- to the Detroit Lions for Roy Williams.

It was a stunning trade that gave the Cowboys an explosive wide receiver tandem in Terrell Owens and Williams.

When the year was over, Williams had just 19 catches for 198 yards. He finished the season with career lows in catches (36), yards (430) and touchdowns (two). The Cowboys missed the playoffs and cut Owens in the offseason, leaving Williams as the lead receiver.

But in 11 games with quarterback Tony Romo as the starter, Williams has 27 receptions for 374 yards and one touchdown.

Those are a considerably low numbers, especially since Romo has completed more passes this season and last to backup running back Tashard Choice (33) in just three more games. In just 11 games with the Cowboys, former receiver Terry Glenn caught 43 balls for 689 yards and three touchdowns.
Cowboys coaches and players say Williams is getting open but is not the target of many throws, whether it's because Romo is under pressure or seeks another receiver.

Fellow receiver Patrick Crayton directed the questions elsewhere when asked about the difficulties of being a lead receiver for the Cowboys.

"You have to ask [Jason] Witten how hard that is," he said. "He's been the leading receiver since I've been here."

Witten, the Cowboys' tight end, leads the team in catches (28) and yards (259).

Why not Williams?

"He's played well," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "We haven't always hit on the opportunities that we've had with him. There have been times [when] he's been open and for whatever reason, we haven't been able to get him the ball and I think when players see that on tape, you say, 'Hey, there's some chances here.' We've got to keep focusing on working, and part of that is execution and things will come. I think Roy feels that way."

Williams says he's a coachable wide receiver and feels the missed opportunities will come, at some point. The "coachable wide receiver" part is Williams' indirectly saying he's running the plays that are called.

Romo, meanwhile, has a theory about why Williams' numbers are low.

"Numbers are the most overrated thing, in a lot of areas," Romo said. "Some guy can have great numbers but he does things wrong a lot of the time. Another guy does things right and the ball just doesn't come in his direction for scheme or for other purposes. Roy does a lot of things really well."

Romo mentioned how Williams is blocking well downfield on run plays and clearing space for other receivers to get the ball. Garrett said Williams is running all sorts of routes and winning his battles with defenders.
Yet he's still not getting the ball.

In some ways you have to wonder if Williams is feeling the pressure of a man whom the team traded three draft picks for and gave a five-year contract extension worth $45 million with $20 million guaranteed.

"I don't feel any pressure," Williams said. "I'm just waiting on my opportunity in the ballgame to make those plays that help the team win."

Crayton said the situation has probably been a bit tough on Williams.

"I'm sure he would like to have a little more of an impact, but that's not the way it is right now. We'll handle our situations when they come."

Injuries also slowed Williams' impact. He battled plantar fasciitis in the late stages of the 2008 season and missed the Kansas City game with three bruised ribs.

"My ribs are good," Williams said. "I will play this week because I want our team to get better."

If the Cowboys do get better, it might start with Williams getting going. If not, this trade will look like a bust.