Data shows how Jameson Williams can unlock a different level in Lions' offense

As good as the Detroit Lions' offense is, Jameson Williams can be a real difference maker in one (obvious?) area.
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This is obviously a big year for Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams. Moving toward his third season, he's not rehabbing an injury or dealing with the cloud of a gambling suspension. The OTA buzz was roundly positive, and he needs to carry that right into and through training camp.

At a glance, Williams is low in the pecking order for targets and touches in the Lions' offense. But his unique speed would allow him to make an impact on relatively few opportunities. So volume won't be critical or necessarily necessary, and opposing defenses will have to account for him.

In line with more playing time late last season, Williams showed a lot of good signs as a more polished receiver and by all accounts he carried that through offseason work.

It's fine to wonder if Williams will get it done this year until we see it. But in one particular area, he can absolutely impact the Lions' offense like no one else really can.

How Jameson Williams can unlock new level in Lions' offense

ESPN's Mina Kimes welcomed Steven Ruiz of The Ringer to her podcast recently to rank the top 10 offenses in the NFL for 2024. Let's look past where the Lions' offense is ranked, and to the conversation that was had.

Here's what Kimes said:

"I think for me, with the Lions, similarly to San Francisco and some of the better offenses in football, because they are so damn good running the ball, they face a ton of single-high coverage. San Francisco, however averages like .27 EPA per play throwing the ball on those and the Lions it drops to .13. They're leaving a lot of explosive opportunities on the table that are created by their run game....If Jameson Williams can be even 80 percent of the guy that he looked like in college...To me, that takes this already great offense to that next level."

Kimes and Ruiz both addressed the question mark Williams is right now. Ruiz pointed to how so many of the Lions' explosive plays last year were run plays (66 percent) compared to, however unfairly, the Chiefs (most of their explosive plays were pass plays). Ruiz also commended the play designs of offensive coordinator Ben Johnson to fill that gap in explosive plays in the pass game.

The clip of the conversation Kimes posted on Twitter was rooted in the Lions' EPA vs. single-high coverage, which inherently means passes further downfield. Jared Goff was proficient to all areas of the field last year, so having a more consistent connection with Williams could really make a big difference on throws furthest downfield.

Williams is at the intersection of being an important player in the Lions' offense, being someone defenses will have to account for and being lined up to be in favorable situations based on the other talent around him. If it all comes together for him, which isn't a fresh idea, the Lions' offense has another level it can reach this year.


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