Film Room Checkup: Terrance Williams
November 7, 2013 | Sammy Mayers
Terrance Williams has a lot of talent. That is the main thing I took from watching the tape from the Vikings-Cowboys tilt. Williams – a 3rd round pick out of Baylor in the 2013 draft – is the fastest player on the field. He is a fixture in two-wide sets and is essentially an every down player (he wasn’t on the field for one play). Since Week 4 when he took over for Miles Austin, Williams has caught 38 balls for 417 yards with 4 touchdowns. Most impressively, he’s been averaging 6.3 targets a game in this 6 week time frame. His rapport with Romo has become stronger as his targets have increased over the last 3 weeks – jumping to 8 a game. Williams was targeted 7 times this past Sunday but only hauled in 2 receptions for a total of 33 yards. As we dive into the tape, we discover that he could have had a much bigger day.
In a game in which the Cowboys only ran the ball 9 times, you would think Williams would find himself heavily involved considering his performance in the most recent weeks. Most of the game, Williams is running very deep routes and attempting to stretch the Vikings secondary. Because of his vertical ability, this helped open up tons of room for Cole Beasley and Jason Witten in the intermediate part of the field. There were still some plays that I think Romo could have hit with Williams deeper down the field.
The following are some notable plays that caught my eye involving Terrance Williams in the Vikings game:
On this particular play, Williams is lined up on the top of image. The play design forces the Vikings to respect Williams speed as he is running a simple go route up the field. This route attracts the attention of both the cornerback who is covering him and the safety on top who needs to be there if Williams blows by the corner.
As Williams breezes by the cornerback, the safety on top is forced to maintain his attention on Williams instead of moving closer towards the line of scrimmage to help with Jason Witten in the flat. This leaves Witten in single coverage near midfield and it becomes an easy throw for Tony Romo to make.
Williams essentially eliminates both the cornerback and safety from impacting Romo’s throw to Witten and the play goes for an easy 8 yards. This is a great example of how the Cowboys are using Williams’ speed to create space for their backs and tight ends on short to intermediate routes.
On this first down play, the Cowboys put Williams in a favorable position. He is essentially in single coverage due to it being a 4-wide set and the fact that the safety up top has to pay attention to the slot receiver on his side of the field in lieu of Williams.
As the play begins to develop, we can see that Williams gets past his man around 7 yards into his route and is headed for the end zone. As mentioned before, the safety’s responsibility is on the slot receiver which leaves Williams virtually uncovered once he gets past the cornerback.
Romo decides to go the safer route by trying to fit the ball in to Witten but it falls incomplete. There would have been a chance at a big play had Romo thrown in it in Williams’ direction. Although this play does nothing of relevance for Williams on the stat sheet, it proves that he is capable of getting open in the red zone area and that there are opportunities to be had for him and Romo in the red zone.
This play is actually the third down play on the same drive. The Cowboys ran for a minimal gain on second down which left them in a 3rd & 7 situation. We see a 4-wide set once again with Williams at the bottom of the image. The Vikings safeties are much shallower on this play compared to the first down play which tells us they are probably expecting a short or intermediate throw attempting to move the chains.
Williams runs a go route again and the corner covers it well and stays on top of the route. You can see that the protection is excellent for Romo on this play and he has plenty of time to throw.
As Romo is getting ready to make his throw, Williams begins to gain some separation at the 5 yard line. By the time this occurs, Romo has already decided to target Dez Bryant. The ball falls incomplete and the Cowboys are forced to kick a field goal.
It is certainly assuring that Williams had another opportunity on this play to score a touchdown. These are plays that Tony Romo is certainly capable of making and will make throughout the remainder of the season. You can see Williams calling for the ball and I’m sure this is something that was discussed on the sidelines later on.
The final play I want to show is one of the two catches Williams made all day. It is a great illustration of how intelligent a receiver Williams is and it gives us a glimpse of the type of rapport Romo and Williams are building. It is a 3rd and 17 and the Cowboys run a simple combination route on the left side of the field trying to get Williams open near the sticks. Cole Beasley is in the slot and is running a seam route straight up the field. The nickel back’s responsibility is on Beasley and he carries him up the field. Meanwhile, Williams is running a 20 yard in route.
Romo has excellent protection once again and has the time to wait for both Beasley and Williams’ routes to progress.
Romo is finally forced to climb the pocket and once he sets his feet, he notices that the nickel back who was covering Beasley passed him off to the safety and stayed shallower to help defend Williams near the sticks.
The cornerback who was originally covering Williams moves to cover Beasley for some reason leaving Williams in single coverage with the nickel back. However, both Romo and Williams realize that the window is a bit too tight to make the throw so Williams moves closer to the hashmarks to get in between the nickel back and a Vikings linebacker.
Williams ends up sitting 2 yards past the sticks in between the nickel back and the linebacker and Romo makes a perfect throw to pick up the first down.
A play like this takes tons of practice time and repetitionss to perfect. Romo and Williams are building great chemistry together and this play is a perfect example of that.
Even the productive receivers have disappointing weeks sometimes and I’m afraid that was the case this past Sunday for Terrance Williams against the Vikings. Although it looked like a favorable matchup for Williams, things didn’t roll his way and he didn’t have the statistical game his fantasy owners were hoping for. The good news is that it is clear at this point that Williams is a huge part of the Cowboys offense. He is on the field on every passing play for the most part – save 1 or 2 a game. The coaching staff and Tony Romo clearly have a lot of confidence in him and this is rare for a rookie receiver. Don’t be shocked if he has a dud game or two down the stretch because he is still a rookie and it will happen sometimes. For the most part however, it is safe to assume that Williams will be very productive as the Cowboys attempt to make a playoff run. The team is clearly much more interested in passing than running the ball and there will be plenty of opportunities for Williams if Romo is dropping back to throw 35-40 times a game. This is a guy I’m personally trying to trade for in my leagues and it is a perfect time to buy-low after this disappointing performance.
Verdict: Keep Williams in your lineups and trade for him if you can!