Roy Williams is the fourth-most productive pass-catcher on the Dallas Cowboys, and if the glass is half-full, well, heck ... somebody's got to be No. 4.
We are being inundated this week with mainstream-media panic (not to mention quotes from Roy that make it sound like he's panicking, too) due to what I find to be a collection of disappointing-but-acceptable facts. Example: Roy's 14-catches-of-37-targeted passes is the NFL's lowest ratio.
The numbers are undeniable. But the panic - Williams' quotes qualified him for a breathless lead story on "SportsCenter'' this morning - is unnecessary.
Because it doesn't matter if Roy Williams performs like a No. 1 receiver.
It only matters that SOMEBODY does.
Some quick takes that might calm anyone who cares to listen:
* I believe Roy ran a couple of routes that were destined for failure due to his disinterest. No matter the low level of numbers and no matter the high level of expectations, that is impossible to justify.
* "I'm the No. 1 receiver," Williams says of his pecking-order role in the passing game. "But things are just going No. 2's way."
The MSM is failing to understand this. He doesn't mean "I'm the star.'' He means "I play the X, which is the primary receiver in an offense.''
* And I think this is the central point here: It doesn't matter who is No. 1 in terms of being targeted, in terms of catching passes or in terms of scoring touchdowns. All that matters is that somebody does.
And somebody is.
Tony Romo's timing with with Roy might be off. But (if you want to find blame) Romo's timing with everyone else seems to be impeccable. Miles Austin (with his NFL-record 482 yards in his first three starts, plus five TDs on his 21 receptions) has vaulted into a vacancy left by Roy.
That wasn't necessarily the Cowboys plan ... though I do recall receivers coach Ray Sherman telling us in training camp that he thought Dallas might have four guys catch 50-to-60 passes and no single guy catching 90-to-100. ... but it's the plan now.
This story - if indeed it really is a story at all - is loaded with sidebar issues. "Roy is the Cowboys' third-highest paid player.'' "Roy cost the Cowboys three draft picks, including a first and a third.'' "Roy's gotta be as good as T.O. was.'' "Jason Garrett needs to figure out how to use him.'' "But he's a good blocker.'' "Roy is overrated.'' "Irvin says he's not receptive to teaching.'' "Maybe they are rolling coverages at him.''
But at this point - the Cowboys have won three straight and are poised to go to Philly on Sunday and really get into this NFC East race - Williams and the Cowboys needn't concern themselves with what might be.
What is will do. And here is what is:
The Cowboys do have an answer atop the receiving totem pole. And when the MSM says, "If the Cowboys want to win big (in Philly and beyond), Roy is going to have to play big,'' the MSM is wrong.
That would be true if he was "the No. 1 receiver.'' But right now, Williams isn't a lousy No. 1. He's a promising No. 4. ...
And maybe the real story here isn't that the Cowboys have "problems'' with an old star receiver, but rather than they have "promise'' with a new star receiver.