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September 29, 2010

JUST CHILL: With Roy Williams producing, the Cowboys offense is fully functional

Call it the ROY EFFECT

Clarence Hill

Wide receiver Roy Williams doesn’t deny being mad, upset and motivated by Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin’s preseason comments that the Cowboys were playing 10 against 11 with him on the field.

Already burning to have a big year and quiet the critics for his disappointing play since being traded to the Cowboys from Detroit in 2008, Williams said Irvin’s comments lit his fire.

The explosion came Sunday in a 27-13 victory against the Texans when Williams erupted for five catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns in what was his best game in a Cowboys uniform.

It could have long lasting after affects for the Cowboys offense  _ which is again fully functional, thanks ironically to Irvin.

Everything is now at quarterback Tony Romo’s disposal, which coach Wade Phillips said is “good for us and bad for the opposition.”

"Roy did a great job the other day in the game,” offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. “He made some big plays for us. He made some little plays for us, too, that were significant in the game. That's important. We like to be aggressive in attacking the defense. It's not necessarily spreading the ball around to keep everybody happy. We're attacking in different ways. We run it, we throw it, we get it to different guys. When your number is called, it's your opportunity to make a play and Roy did that the other day. Really, he's done that all year.”

Real or imagined Williams’ lack of previous lack of impact limited the Cowboys offense. Whether it was because Williams’ couldn’t produce or the Cowboys didn’t trust him doesn’t matter.  Defenses didn’t have to account for him because the Cowboys didn’t go to him.

Now everything should be in play for the Cowboys offense.

If they scheme to take lead receiver Miles Austin out the game, which the Texans did, then Williams can burn them. Austin caught 20 passes in the first two games. He was limited to two against the Texans while facing double teams. The Texans guarded Williams one on one with rookie safety Kareem Jackson, who was mentally and physically hazed all game.

“Roy Williams has been playing good the first two games,” Phillips said.  “Like I said, Miles was kind of the target the first couple of games, but Roy when he was asked to make a play made the play. This game, Miles was covered more, and Tony went to the guy that was open and Roy made plays. I was glad to see that.  That’s what all the talk was about, I think. How many weapons we had. I think you can include Roy in that group.”

It goes beyond Williams for the Cowboys. He is just the lightening rod because of his $9 million annual salary and the bevy of draft picks the Cowboys gave up to get him.

His effort against the Texans was important for his confidence and that of the Cowboys. It was also necessary to get on tape for opposing teams.

But Romo has spread the ball around all season. The Cowboys have five players who rank in the top 34 in receptions in the NFC led by Austin’s 22 which ranks second overall. Tight end Jason Witten has 15 catches. Rookie receiver  Dez Bryant has 14, followed by Williams with 12 and tight end Martellus Bennett with 11.

All totaled Romo has completed  to nine different receivers this season. While Austin has been the main target, different players have broken out in each game.

Bryant had a career high eight catches in week 1. Bennett had a career high five in week 2 and that was before Williams’ breakthrough performance against the Texans.

 “The real good passing games we see certainly and ours has been one of them, has spread the ball out quite a bit,” Phillips said. “Just like if they’re taking away the run you’ve got to be able to throw it; if they’re taking away the pass you’ve got to be able to run it. If you can’t throw it to a certain guy maybe you can throw it to someone else. So that’s what you have to be ready for -- to be versatile enough offensively. That’s what it takes.”

It could likely mean fewer individual catches but it makes the Cowboys offense extremely potent and hard to defend.

Witten has caught at least 80 passes every year since 2007, including at least 90 in two of the last three.

He said he knows those numbers will go down but he said he can handle it because of he sees the big picture of getting everybody involved.

Now that a lit up Williams has finally exploded, the possibilities are endless.


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