For every step forward, there seems to be two steps back for Detroit Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams. Patience is still the word with him, with still less than 200 snaps on his resume, but it's also not wrong to want to see a little more from him than he has shown thus far.
The Lions' acquisition of Donovan Peoples-Jones at the trade deadline could be a sign of a lack of faith in Williams. It's more of a move to add depth after Marvin Jones left the team to tend to a personal matter, and a worthy flier on a talented receiver.
But the broader question about how much patience/leeway Williams will be given lingers, as the Lions try to keep piling up wins when they come out their Week 9 bye.
Williams has speed not many NFL players can match, and it has shown through when he has gotten his hands on the ball. He just hasn't touched the ball quite enough, one way or the other.
Herman Moore shines light on what everyone sees about Lions' usage of Jameson Williams
Herman Moore once held the NFL single-season record for receptions (123 in 1995), and he's one of the best receivers (and players) in Lions' history. So he knows of which he speaks about the nuances of playing the position, and he can break down deeper things with the eyes of a former player.
"I think he can be fixed very, not quickly, but I think it’d be done very methodically. Here’s what I’d do if it were me, I would get him involved. I would move him to the slot. I’d take him from the outside. He’s too easy to defend as an outside guy," Moore said. "Bring him to the slot occasionally. I don’t think he’s gonna find his thing. If you put him and St. Brown into the slots and you go split sets and two receiver sets on each side and you mirror your routes, you have a person who will defeat the one-on-one."
"I think he needs to get shorter routes, where you’re getting the ball in his hands really quickly,....You’re asking him to come out of his shell, to come out of the flatness that he’s in, only on big routes, big plays. That is the lowest-percentage completion that you can have. You’re not gonna build his confidence, you’re gonna continue to destroy it."
"Put the ball in his hands, give him the opportunity to make some moves in the open like he did when he was in college. But, also, he’s gonna get some catches under his belt. He’s got to touch the ball.."
Williams has occasionally been targeted on shorter passes, but it has not been often and it hasn't yielded much. It's easy to say "just get the ball in his hands" as the cure to his struggles, but Williams needs sheer reps and touches and there's an argument he's not getting enough of anything right now.
The marriage of Ben Johnson's imagination and full faith in Williams has not yet come. But the bye week might become a reset moment for the Lions' offensive coordinator, and the stretch run of the season could be a launch point for the 12th overall pick in the 2022 draft.
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