Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams certainly had his ups and downs last year. He had some great moments early in the season, but he also had some problems with drops as the season went on.
When healthy, Tyrell Williams can stretch the field
Let’s take a look at the keys that made him successful last year, and his outlook for the 2020 season.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) September 10, 2019
This type of play is what head coach Jon Gruden loves to run for Williams. The Raiders used Williams the way they’ll use Henry Ruggs III. This really is a great play call from Gruden; It’s third and one, and the Broncos are clearly expecting a handoff to Josh Jacobs. You see them load the box, and they leave the corner in a one on one matchup with Williams without any safety help. This is a scenario Gruden drools over whether it’s Williams, Ruggs, or any other speedy receiver. The defense expects the run, and Carr throws a great ball to Williams streaking down the field. This kind of matchup is exactly what Gruden wants for Williams.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) September 29, 2019
The play above is another example of how well Williams can be utilized against man coverage. At the bottom of the screen, we see Williams in a one-on-one matchup with the corner. His size and speed makes this a difficult matchup for anybody in man coverage, especially with no safety help. Carr takes advantage of this and he throws Williams a good ball. This is a high percentage play and it’s one that Williams is perfect for in this offense.
Tyrell Williams is a TD machine!
— NFL (@NFL) October 27, 2019
Here’s one more example of what Williams can do against man coverage. Williams is in a one-on-one matchup with former Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley at the top of the screen. This is a really good play-call from Gruden. He runs Williams toward the middle, and has Waller run toward the sideline. This creates a sort-of pick play and it gets Williams open. Once Williams is in the open field, he’s impossible to catch. Carr gives him a good ball, and it resulted in a touchdown.
Williams is a big play machine, and his combination of size and speed is the reason for that. However, one of his main problems relates to his concentration. Williams had a lot of drops in key moments during the season, like the play below:
3rd & 13, 1Q. Raiders go max protect, 3 man route with this dagger concept. Jets in Tampa 2 coverage. Carr has time for this play to develop and delivers a strike to WR Tyrell Williams. Big drop that left points on the field early in game.#Raiders #RaiderNation
— RaiderRamble.com™ (@TheRaiderRamble) November 30, 2019
This is a very good throw from Carr, one that Williams should catch. This is a third and 13, and the Jets are running a cover 2. The receiver next to Williams is going to run straight towards the safety, which forces the safety to leave the middle open for Williams. The play design proves to work perfectly and Carr throws a strike down the middle of the field. Williams just lacks concentration on this play and it causes him to drop the ball. This was a momentum changing play, and it’s one of those plays that often go under looked but can, unfortunately, change a game.
With that said, I don’t think Raiders fans give Williams enough credit. He was projected to be the Raiders second receiver up until just a few days before the season started. I think Williams did a great job shifting to the No. 1 receiver role very fast. It’s a tougher transition than most people realize. Obviously, that doesn’t excuse his drops or simple plays where he lost concentration, but I do think he deserves a ton of credit for the plays he made throughout the season.
I also think Williams will have a much better year since the Raiders picked up Ruggs. Williams can focus on being in the No. 2 role, one that I think he will flourish in. He didn’t get as many one-on-one matchups last year because the defense was able to focus on him as the Raiders’ best receiver. With Ruggs commanding attention, Williams should get some better matchups.
What to expect from Tyrell Williams looking forward?
Now, let’s take a look at Williams’ outlook for the 2020 season. Since the Raiders picked up Ruggs, Williams isn’t going to be tasked with the main receiver role again. I think this will help him a lot, and I expect Williams to be much more comfortable in this sidekick role.
Williams got 64 targets in 14 games last year, and he caught 42 of them. Because of the added weapons on the Raiders’ offense, I think Williams will have around the same number of targets over a full season. His 65.6% catch percentage last year was the highest one of his career, so I don’t expect that to increase too much.
Williams totaled 651 receiving yards last year, and I expect that number to increase in 2020. Since he won’t be the first option anymore, I think the passes he gets will be deeper down the field when he has a favorable one-on-one matchup. His yards-per-reception should increase from 15.5, and I expect him to finish within the 700-800-yard range next year. Williams also had six touchdowns last year. He’s averaged around five and seven touchdowns per year throughout his career, so I expect him to have a similar amount next year.
I’ve broken down the keys to Williams success, and also why he frustrated Raiders fans last year. With the addition of Ruggs, Bowden, and Edwards, I think Williams is going to get a lot more favorable matchups than he did last year. This should help him a lot, and I expect Williams to improve and have a great 2020 season.
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Top Photo: Doug McShooler/AP Photo