Wade Phillips said he will do his best to get disappointing receiver Roy Williams to play at a Pro Bowl level again.But he also said Williams must take it upon himself to improve and justify the team's enormous investment in him.
Williams has caught just 57 passes in 25 games since being acquired from Detroit in a trade in 2008 for a first, third and fifth round pick . He was to be the team's go-to receiver for the future but has been replaced as the No. 1 receiver by breakout star Miles Austin and heads into the offseason as the team's biggest enigma.
Williams made the Pro Bowl in 2006 when he caught 82 passes for 1,310 yards and seven touchdowns.
"I think a guy that has been a Pro Bowler like Roy, he's got to take part of it too," Phillips said. "Miles has come so far that nobody knew he was going to be that good. He has to maintain being that good and Roy has to get to that level again."
The fans and media believe Williams should be replaced by Patrick Crayton or impressive rookie Kevin Ogletree. Phillips said his main focus is getting Williams right again. But he said no one should lower their expectations for Williams and his $9 million annual salary.
"He knows that, we know that and we keep working," Phillips said. "But you can't just say its the player all the time. You have to look at what you are doing with him and what you are teaching him. Part of it could be us."
Owner Jerry Jones has already said the coaches need to do a better job of putting Williams in a position to succeed. Phillips agrees.
What he doesn't agree with is the notion that the Cowboys kept Williams on the field last season because of his contract and not because of merit when Crayton or Ogletree were supposedly performing better.
"I don't think that was true," Phillips said.
Still if Williams doesn't improve and produce big next season, a starting job is not guaranteed.
"We are going to play the best player no matter what," said Phillips when asked if Crayton or Ogletree could conceivably supplant Williams opposite Austin in the starting lineup.
What's certain, however, is that Williams is likely not going anywhere. His $9.5 bonus for next season is guaranteed as is part of his part of his $3.452 million base salary.