Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Dez Briscoe, Preston Parker, Michael Spurlock, Maurice Stovall and good ole Sammie Stroughter – sounds like a scary receiving group, right? Well, I would say it is scary but not in the sense that you would want as a Buccaneers fan. Interestingly enough, this receiving group helped the 2010 Buccaneers pull a 10-win season. And the diamond in the rough, Mike Williams, was a big part of the success.
Mike was not a first round pick. Heck he wasn’t even a second round pick, but instead a fourth round pick due to character concerns (not quite Aaron Hernandez level, though). Quickly, he emerged as Freeman’s number one target as he totaled 964 yards on 65 receptions. Tallying double-digit TDs didn’t hurt, but what stood out was the way he made some of those grabs. In his debut game against the Browns, he showed his masterful body control and caught a tipped ball in the back of the end zone. The body control he possesses and his instinctual awareness of the sideline compares to another former Syracuse player, Marvin Harrison.
Although he played well his rookie year, Mike Williams did not have a successful sophomore season. It was a simple explanation on why the production (771 yds. 65 rec, 3 TD) went down, teams finally treated him like a true number one and gave him the attention that entails. It became apparent that though he can match up to number one corners, the double coverage was too much for him to do on his own. The solution was to bring in another true number one receiver, Vincent Jackson, to take away some attention. Needless to say, the duo is truly a scary force on the field.
A combined 2,380 yards and 17 TDs on 135 receptions was the result of this new tandem. Let’s compare that production to that of other leading tandems in the league:
NY- Nicks/Cruz- 1,784 yds 13 TD 139 rec
ATL- White/Jones- 2,549 yds 17 TD 171 rec
NO- Colston/Moore- 2,195 yds 16 TD 148 rec
DEN- Thomas/Decker- 2,498 yds 26 TD 179 rec
NE- Welker/Lloyd- 2,265 yds 10 TD 192 rec
DAL- Bryant/Austin- 2,325 yds 18 TD 158 rec
This list could go on and on, but you get the point. Those are some of the top receiving tandems in pass heavy offenses and Mike/VJ are in the thick of the race, statistically (even though stats are for losers). To have numbers that compare to the likes of Roddy and Julio in just the first year of this offensive system is impressive in itself.
So to even consider gambling on not locking Williams up ASAP is a mistake. I’ll say it again, a mistake. This tandem, along with the growth of Freeman, can be special. From where this receiving core was at three years ago to where it is at now it is an incredible jump that Bucs fans just aren’t used to seeing.
Victor Cruz might have made Mike Williams a little more expensive with his recent contract that Williams’ agent will definitely push to get near. But even if they have to spend a little more than they want to, it needs to be done. Receivers like Williams don’t come around often, and he has already outplayed the rookie contract and then some.
The NFL is a business and team loyalty on both ends isn’t quite what it used to be, but this has some great value to both sides. In the end, all that matters is winning, which is why this deal will get done as Williams increases the chances of getting into the January dance.