There's been a lot of apprehension in the press and right here on bloggingtheboys about the Cowboys WR's and whether or not Roy Williams can be a #1 WR for Dallas. I think many people can't see the forest for the trees. Dallas has a #1 receiver; Jason Witten.
Since Tony Romo entered the 07 season as starter Jason Witten has...
More yards than T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Laveranues Coles, and Dwayne Bowe, more Td's than Derrick Mason, S. Moss and Evans, higher yards per reception than T.J., Mason, Tony Gonzalez and Ward and more 20+ yard receptions than Boldin, T.J, Mason, Gonzalez and Ward.
All of those guys are pretty well known names. Of course the point I'm making is that in the panic about our WR's and the “can Williams be a #1 guy” debate our All-Pro Tight End seems to get overlooked. Jason Witten is a #1 receiver in this league and the #1 receiver on this team.
2007 Jason Witten – 96 for 1145 and 7 TD's. Ranked against the rest of the league's WR's and TE's that year he was 10th overall in receptions, 14th overall in yards and 20th overall in TD's. Out of the nine receivers who caught more passes than him 4 had a lower yards per catch average than Witten. He also had 14 receptions over 20 yards, 2 of which went over 40 yards.
In 2008 Witten battled multiple injuries and endured an inept backup QB for 3 games yet still had good numbers. 2008 Jason Witten – 81 for 952 and 4 TD's. Avg 11.8, 20+ 14, 40+ 1.
There's no reason at all to think that a healthy Romo and Witten won't put up similar numbers to the 2007 season. And for those TO disciples; a 22 year old Jason Witten had 87 catches for 980 yards and 6 Td's in 2004 with Vinny Testarverde and Keyshawn Johnson (Terry Glenn only played in 6 games) as his support. He doesn't need TO to continue to thrive.
Witten is only the third TE in NFL history to have a 96+ catch season. He's also the NFL record holder, tied with Hall of Famer Kellon Winslow Sr., for the most receptions by a TE in a single game with 15.
This is a serious future Hall of Fame player we have here. Without injury he will be the #1 receiver in Dallas' offense once again. And rightly so, he's outstanding.
Part 2; what about Roy Williams?
Williams will still get plenty of opportunities to make plays but he won't lead this team in receptions (he might not even lead it in yards). Williams is more Keyshawn than TO (although he's faster than what Keyshawn was when he was here) so let's look at that afore mentioned 2004 season with Witten's big year and check Keyshawn's stats for that year; 70 catches for 981 yards (14.0 avg) and 6 Td's. This could be the sort of season we see from Roy and I think that will be good enough.
With the solid Crayton around and the potential of the young Austin, Bennett and Felix Jones trio grabbing a bunch more passes than last year, Williams doesn't need to have a 90 catch, 1300 yard season for this offense to work.
I also think a season like Keyshawn's 04 is very achievable for Roy Williams.
Here's some combined stats from WR's from the 07 and 08 seasons. Mixed in will be Roy Williams stats from the 06 and 07 seasons (giving him a reprieve for last years disaster for the moment).
A – 160 for 1891 and 20 Td's, Avg 11.8, 20+ 24, 40+ 4.
B – 140 for 1852 and 9 Td's, Avg 13.2, 20+ 26, 40+ 6.
C – 145 for 1962 and 16 Td's, Avg 13.5, 20+ 26, 40+ 5.
D – 152 for 1775 and 14 Td's, Avg 11.6, 20+ 22, 40+ 2.
E – 165 for 2423 and 13 Td's, Avg 14.6, 20+ 31, 40+ 10.
F – 118 for 1866 and 8 Td's, Avg 15.8, 20+ 25, 40+ 7.
G – 146 for 1980 and 12 Td's, Avg 13.5, 20+ 30, 40+ 4.
H – 135 for 2162 and 19 Td's, Avg 16.0, 20+ 36, 40+ 8.
I – 146 for 2148 and 12 Td's, Avg 14.7, 20+ 35, 40+ 7.
Some similar type numbers there from 9 different WR's. Some are more possession and others are more down field but they're mostly fairly comparable all around.
So who's who?
A - Anquan Boldin
B – Santana Moss
C – Marques Colston
D – Hines Ward
E – Steve Smith
F – Lee Evans
G – Chad Johnson
H – Braylon Edwards
I – Roy Williams
Williams holds his own against all those guys. And averaging his two seasons (73 for 1074 and 6 Td's) gives us numbers very similar to the Keyshawn 2004 season stated earlier.
What was most exciting about those stats for me was the fact that Roy Williams had very respectable deep ball numbers (the 20+ & 40+ category) when compared to noted speedsters like Santana Moss, Steve Smith and Lee Evans. If Williams can continue to get deep like that this offense Dallas will score plenty.
I think this is the level that we are on with regards to Roy Williams. He's not Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson or Randy Moss. Or even Terrell Owens in his prime. But he is a capable WR and has shown he can put up numbers amongst most other good to very good WR's in the league. As a #2 target (or a 1b if you like) in a successful rushing team (hopefully) with a very good QB he can be an impact player on offense.
Going into the season with Jason Witten and Roy Williams as your top 2 targets in the passing game is not a reason for concern, it's a reason for optimism.