After a few weeks of empty promises, I have finally put my Roy Williams rant on paper. The premise is that he is on the brink of greatness, but not there yet, despite how many media folks tell you he is. For the Cowboys to be great, Roy Williams needs to be great. Enjoy.
Questioning the Untouchable Cowboy
Roy Williams is entering his 4th year in the NFL. The Sporting News recently ranked him as the #9 player in all of the NFL. I don’t buy it. But for the Cowboys to reach the heights they hope to reach, he needs to live up to that hype. He has the talent to do so, but does he have the drive?
Who doesn’t remember the game-winning play he made at the goal line at the Cotton Bowl, when he forced Chris Simms into an interception, and the Sooners into another win over the Longhorns? He used his absurd talent that day to change a game. He went on to knock players around at the NFL level in his first two seasons in Dallas, and there was no question he was ready to take on the possibility of a Hall of Fame career.
Then it hit a plateau. For whatever reason, he stopped changing games. He stopped making plays that made you think Canton. Instead, in 2004, there was reason to believe that the NFL had figured out Roy Williams, and began to expose him time and time again. His team will excuse his play by pointing out Darren Woodsen was not by his side for the first time, and the lack of a genuine free safety has forced Roy to play out of position.
But, I think there was more to it than that. I think that he became quite pleased with the perception that he was a feared assassin in the secondary, and each hit was a candidate for Sportscenter. He also became a guy who could claim he ended 3 players seasons with broken legs, and made such an impact that he joins Larry Bird as “guys who have rules named after them”. In short, he became impressed with himself. He had arrived. Just ask him. In fact, I remember the Detroit game last year (the only game in a pretty long stretch that the Cowboys actually won) when Roy hit a player 12 yards downfield, stood up, posed, and after the game congratulated himself on changing the game with that hit. Did it result in a game changing fumble? Maybe an injury to a star receiver? Nope. A first down for Detroit and Tai Streets. Now, it should be noted that the Cowboys won the game, 31-21, but the point should not be lost: He was convinced his “big hit” meant more than it did.
For the record, Roy Williams is an amazing talent. I am a huge fan of his work. But, he concerned me greatly in 2004 when he appeared to have stopped progressing. Was it just a small bump in the road? Or, was it a case of a guy who was pleased with himself. Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, two athletes who are debatably the best players in all of sports, were never happy with themselves. They constantly would spend the off-season shoring up any weakness in their games. But here is Roy, celebrating another hit that conceded another 12-yard gain.
What really brought this rant out of me was the play in the Seattle pre season game. 1 play, but it uncovered his whole problem in a nutshell. Maurice Morris takes a handoff at his goal-line. Roy Williams blitzes perfectly, and meets him head on. If he wraps up, the play might be a safety. But instead, he launches himself like a missile at Morris, and comes up empty. Morris shakes Williams off, and runs out to the 14, which helped the Seahawks get some much-needed field position. For me, it was more of the Roy Williams M.O. Lots of hype. Lots of huge hits. Lots of ability, but disappointing results.
So, as we move to this season, I believe one of the main reasons to switch to the 3-4 is to allow Roy Williams the ability to make more plays in the box. To allow him to use his massive ability to be a major player who leads the way with his leadership. For that to happen, he cannot make plays that look good on NFL Films. He needs to make plays that get results. Sometimes wrapping up is a better play than a spearing hit.
More than anything, he has to ask more of himself. He allowed excuses to be made for him. Darren Woodsen would never let that happen. If he can add the accountability of Darren Woodsen to his raw ability, the Cowboys will have the Roy Williams they need to dominate as a defense. Can you imagine Roy Williams and DeMarcus Ware feeding off each other on that defense? I hope to see it on the field, and not just in my imagination.
Now, some have pointed out that his tackle totals were higher in 2004. Maybe in quantity but certainly not in quality. He made very few plays of substance in 2004. The defense was a joke, and he was the best player on that joke. But now he has plenty of help.
All I am asking of Roy is that he asks as much out of himself as I ask of him; to live up to his hype and be the best safety in the league.
Now, after taking on the most untouchable athlete in DFW, I expected to get hammered by the legions of fans who have his jersey and consider him a deity. I was shocked at the response:
Could not agree with you more! Maybe Ware will light a fire under him or maybe he will blow his flame out.
Was wondering if anyone else had noticed hes gotten sloppy since the beginning of last year. I cringed everytime Madden said he was a "great" tackler, because he is regressing.
I blamed it on him playing out of position last year and the team sucking. But, he just isnt breaking down on the tackles. All or nothing.
I am so sick of hearing how Roy Williams is a top 10 defensive player in this league and I think he is overrated. Thank you for calling out his skills. I heard a caller today say "He's not supposed to be covering guys" that's BS, because as a safety you might be able to hit but you are absolutely supposed to be covering guys from the safety position.
The celebrations after the hits, the meaningless big hit, and the missed tackles are what overrate this guy. I have no doubt this guy has the talent, but Ed Reed and Brian Dawkins hit just as hard and can actually play cover safety. He is not a complete player and he is basically a 4th linebacker...I love the guy but he is overrated.
Mike in Irving
You couldn't be more right and no one with an objective bone(r) in their body can miss the fact that Roy misses more big hits than he makes. And Dan is right too, he ends up chasing a lot of people down from behind. He is talented, but somebody (ie Parcells) needs to teach him how to make a basic tackle..
keep it up Sports Sturm!!
Dude, I totally agree about Roy. Huge Roy fan, but his bar higher than anyone on the ‘boys D. But a bigger fan of being a smart player first. He wants to be Ronnie Lott on every play, but even Lott played smart first then big hits later. This is just like the monster NBA dunk when you are down by 20. NFL/NBA/NHL/MLB all the same….the big plays make Sportscenter, the smart plays don’t usually. But the ding, dong Patriots make the smart play every time and sometimes win bowls.
One thing to remember about Roy Williams...there's a REASON he's moved closer to the line and away from FS, because he can't cover and misses assignments.
He'll hit someone occasionally, but like the Monday Night debacle last year, he'll leave TO WIDE open in the end zone.
He's a highlight reel guy, talented guy, but NOT a fundamental player.
This is why you NEVER invest a high draft pick on secondary players. That is what they are...secondary, they are complimentary players. They rely on the front 7 to make them good or great players. Anytime there is a good or great defense you can bet that the front 7 are great and the DB's are over rated. It's that simple. That is why Parcells said what he said last year. He expressed it at the wrong time, and he said it incorrectly, but the fact is you don't use high draft picks, and you do not pay money for DB's. It's a waste of $$$ and draft picks. Ed Reed is having success because he is on a great defense. I'll bet you that Pac-Man absolutely sucks this year because the Titans defense is going to suck.
I couldn't agree w/you more regarding Roy's lack of wrapping up and tackling. I really noticed this throughout last season also. You're gonna catch a lot of bs from most Cowboy fan, but not this one. However, if Parcell's is such a defensive guru, why the hell doesn't his team tackle
well?? Last season it was a huge problem, not w/just Roy, but most the defense...particularly Newman and Dat. It drove me crazy watching Newman try to tackle someone out in the flat and he wouldn't use any form. He'd just take after Roy and attempt to lay a big hit, the receiver would take it and rumble down the field as Newman is laying on the turf. It's still happenin the last two preseason games. I see a little hope w/Glenn, he seems to know how to take somebody down. Here's to him getting these younger fellas on board w/getting some bodies on the floor.
Bob, let's not forget that Roy wasn't playing in the box last year like he had been in the previous two years. The receivers that Roy was blowing up last year, were originally being cover by the corner backs and that's why they were 10-15 yards down the field when Roy was laying the wood.
Gregory L. Green
Yeah, Roy Williams can hit, but you are 100% correct that there are huge holes in his game. I doubt that this is a question of being off his game, at all. Teams force coverage mismatches and use his weaknesses to their advantage.
People say, "Yeah well Roy Williams was never a cover guy...his job is around the line of scrimmage...that's where he makes plays."
A safety who can't cover? You have to be kidding me. Throw that on the pile of failed logic like the quarterback who can't pass and the tight end who can't catch.
The game has changed. When half of the plays are passes you simply cannot base your defense on a guy who cannot accomplish his primary responsibility of pass coverage.
Baby Arm....eff Gribble...I hate you guys, bring back Rocco.
I hear what you are saying about Roy Williams and I agree that he should shoulder more of the load, and should be lower in the list, 20's-30's at best. He should be the leader of the defense. But I disagree with you about him making hits 15 yards down the field, and yes he does do that but you also have to give him that his position, unless the play has him run blitzing, has a priority in pass coverage and helping the CB's. Sometimes he cant make a tackle until 15 yards down b/c his defensive assignment took him 20-25 yards deep.
Something to just consider
I heard you yesterday dogging Roy and I meant to email you then. Do you really think Ed Reed is better than Roy? I see Ed Reed as the second coming of Merton Hanks; a player that was propelled into goodness/greatness by catching errant passes that happen to be in his area.
I'd also like to address Roy Williams and tell you that I agree with you completely about him. He missed several tackles the other night though, not just the one at the goal line. I have noticed over the years that he does tend to get a little too aggressive and worry more about knocking somebody's head off rather than making the play. He is a very good athlete, but he is not really a safety. He's more of an extra, kind of undersized linebacker, in the same mold as Thomas Davis the rookie S/LB with Carolina. I think that if Parcells wasn't so obsessed with the size of his linebackers, Roy would be pretty good outside in the 3-4. To be a safety you have to be able to cover somebody from time to time, and he quite frankly couldn't cover my grandmother and she's in a wheelchair. At this point he is a very overrated player, and undeserving of all-pro status. He is not the best safety in the NFL, in fact he isn't even the best safety in his own division, that distinction belongs to Brian Dawkins. Until he figures it out, or he switches positions he will be nothing and the Cowboy's will be the same.
I'm on the Oklahoma guys side who defended Roy, but I do understand your desire for him.
Wait till you see the Ware/Williams rush. Potentially very scary.
man, wish i could have called in on this, but I couldn't agree more about roy williams. and it really
hit me last year what he's been doing. roy Williams has more talent than just about anybody at the position, but he's not maximizing his skills. he's not doing what it takes to make himself better, to make himself a championship calibre player. Everybody knows he's not the best cover guy, but can you honestly say in the past three years he's gotten ANY better? i'd submit to you he's gotten worse! and tackling, that's the worst part of his game. If he's straight on, he just tries to crush the guy, with no regard to wrapping up. and all those horse collar tackles you saw last year? what you don't see on the tv is the pathetic pursuit angle he took that put him
behind the guy in the first place, where all he's got left is the desperation grab at the jersey. or the absolute most basic thing you do before you go to make an open field tackle. break down! anybody remember this concept from frikkin PEE WEE FOOTBALL??!?!! Just last night i see shaun alexander take a handoff, take two steps into the hole, and here comes roy at top
speed! alexander stutter steps to his left, and roy flies by, still at top speed, and misses his grab for the shoulder pads. so what could have been only say a 3 yard gain stopped by the safety, goes for at least 8 and a first down. it's maddening. and the one thing i can't understand is parcells doesn't seem to be saying anything to him either. it's not like he's going to bench williams, but a nice dressing down in practice, and then in the media if that's not successful, normally seems to be the order of the day. yet he seems to just let it go. hey maybe spagnola can be bribed into asking parcels at a press conference what he thinks of roy's penchant for bad tackling?
now the real sad thing is your going to get just a bunch of calls and far more emails from transplant OU fans and alum blindly defending this guy because he's the great roy Williams from OU. wish there was some way to rip the blinders off these people, but you can't cure stupid.
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Brandon, of BaseballMuse.com sent me this:
An excerpt from a piece I put in my newsletter this week, thought you might be interested.
Chris Young has had his ups and downs this season. As a rookie, he has crossed the 150 IP mark against major league hitting for the first time in a season. The numbers generally say pitchers have trouble with this milestone and Young struggled mightily in July and early August. Whether it was a dead arm period, a period of making adjustments, or something clicking, Young has emerged from those struggles. Over his last five starts, he has allowed one or fewer runs four times. He ended losing streaks of four or more games for the Rangers twice in that stretch and Sunday afternoon, he went toe to toe with last year's Cy Young award winner. In fact, Johan Santana may end up with the Cy Young again, but it was Young, not Santana, that left the game with a lead. The game was one the Twins desperately needed to win in order to hang onto hopes of a Wild Card berth. Chris Young shut them down, allowing only three hits and striking out six in seven scoreless innings. I generally avoid pitchers in Texas, but the offense will be good and if he can pitch next year anything like he has the last few starts with consistency, you know he will win 15+ games. Throw out that disastrous month of July (the only month this year when he has not struck out at least twice as many as he walked) and Young's ERA is 3.40 and his K/BB ratio (CMD) is 3.69. Any pitcher striking out more than three times as many as he walks has my attention and even if you leave in the wretched month of July, Young's CMD is 3.27.
John Hart has not dazzled me with his moves (far from it), but where would the Rangers be had he not traded Einar Diaz for Chris Young? I hate defending the guy, because I don't like him, but I don't think he can be accused of setting the Rangers back with what he has done since his first year with the club (now being a Doug Melvin apolgist, don't get me started on the disaster that was Hart's first offseason). While he did not bring in the pitcher(s) or RF/DH that the Rangers needed this past winter, I cannot blame him too much for avoiding the mine field that was that crop of free agents. Eric Milton, Carl Pavano, Russ Ortiz, Jaret Wright, Shawn Estes, Derek Lowe, Carl Pavano... which one of those guys does not look exceedingly overpaid right now? Unless you were going to get Pedro (and the Mets were accused of overpaying him) I'm not sure you had any good options that were remotely viable (and let's face it, Pedro was not viable, was he???). He probably should have tried to make a trade for a young pitcher, but he did not have much fire power to work with. Let's see what he can do this winter given that he will have to move some prospects or lose them...
Just my 2 centavos...
I would like to buy into it, but I said “let’s see what he can do this winter” in 2003, and 2004. I am having a hard time showing the courage in the winter of 2005.