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June 19, 2012 @ 8:31 am
Current rating: 4.33 Stars/3 Votes

Williams Looking To Bounce Back From “Terrible Season”

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Tampa Bay receiver Mike Williams enters the 2012 campaign ready to put what he calls a "terrible season" in 2011 in the rear view mirror. With the arrival of Vincent Jackson, Williams has moved to flanker and may even be used as a punt returner on occasion as both he and the Bucs look to rebound this year.
For some second-year NFL wide receivers, catching 65 passes for 771 yards and three touchdowns wouldn’t be considered a terrible season. But when you are Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams and you caught 65 passes for 964 yards and a franchise-record 11 touchdowns as a rookie in 2010, you aren’t pleased with the step backwards statistically – especially scoring eight less touchdowns.

The Bucs, who are coming off a 4-12 campaign in 2011 marked by a 10-game losing streak to end the season, could have used eight more touchdowns from Williams – or anybody – last year.

“I think it was a terrible season for me,” Williams said of his sophomore year in the NFL. “It may have been one of the worst seasons I have had in my career. It’s the bounce back season and I’m going to forget about it. I’m going to use what I did bad to get good this season.”

Williams and the other Bucs receivers struggled to get separation in man coverage last year. Lack of the proper technique for getting off the line of scrimmage cleanly and not being in the best shape, perhaps due to the lack of an offseason caused by the NFL lockout, were the biggest contributors for Williams’ statistical drop. The Syracuse product has been working with energetic receivers coach P.J. Fleck to improve his technique and become a more knowledgeable receiver heading into his third NFL season.

“Basically knowing the offenses, knowing the defenses, knowing when I have to break off my runs. I’m learning more about that with these new coaches,” Williams said. “It’s a new season, I’m over it. I’m not going to say entirely over it, but I’m about 95 percent over it right now. By Week One I’m going to be completely over it and hopefully by training camp I will be completely over it. That was last year. That’s the good thing about having a bad season … you get to go on to the next season. Going into this season we are going to forget about what happened last season.”

Williams is a quick study, which allowed him to easily capture a starting role as a rookie and have such a successful debut in the NFL. The arrival of Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson in free agency has meant a position change for Williams, who is moving from split end to flanker, but still remains in the starting lineup. The team’s fourth-round pick in 2010 said the recent mini-camp was productive and that he has Mike Sullivan's offense down pat heading into training camp.

“It was great. We got everything we wanted to get done in camp,” Williams said. “We had 98 percent of the guys here with everybody participating, everybody buying in. We all got it. It was a great camp for us.

“I’ve got the offense, got all the positions. They’re moving me around a lot of places. I feel good right now.”

One of those positions that Williams has been moved to is punt return. While Preston Parker or Sammie Stroughter will likely claim the return duties in training camp and the preseason, Williams may be used strategically as a return specialist due to his explosiveness.

“I did a little bit of it this camp,” Williams said. “It feels good to get the ball in my hands. I did a little bit in college and it feels like bringing back memories in the pros.”

Getting his conditioning back to where it was during his rookie season has helped Williams regain a higher degree of explosiveness.

“I accomplished a lot this offseason by learning the playbook, running a lot, and I’m in the best shape of my life right now,” Williams said.

During his rookie season, Williams was a big-play receiver for the Buccaneers, hauling in a 58-yard touchdown catch against Atlanta and producing 18 receptions over 20 yards while averaging 14.8 yards per catch. Last year, Williams wasn’t as explosive, averaging only 11.9 yards per catch and having only nine catches over 20 yards. His longest catch was a 42-yard grab against Carolina on December 5. His previous long was only a 23-yard reception through the first three months of the 2011 season.

Having Jackson draw opponents’ top cornerbacks, along with his improved technique, should help Williams when it comes to getting open in 2012. Jackson, who has 272 career catches for 4,754 yards and 37 touchdowns and comes to Tampa Bay with Pro Bowl credentials, has also provided Williams with a great role model to look up to at One Buccaneer Place.

“[He’s about] getting all the extra work in,” Williams said of Jackson. “You get off field, you watch a little film, and you go home. That’s not Vincent. You get off the field, watch a little film, and he makes you watch a little bit more film. He makes you watch yourself and watch what the defender is doing to you. That’s kind of what I learned from him that you have to keep evaluating yourself and evaluating other players, too.”

While the Bucs have six weeks off prior to the start of training camp on July 27, Williams, Jackson and some other receivers plan on meeting up with quarterback Josh Freeman to get some extra work on their timing in July.

“Me and Josh have always had good timing. It is really good,” Williams said. “We said a couple weeks and then we’re right back working. We will take a couple weeks off then we’re back getting timing down and learning the play book even more.”

Not only does Williams expect to rebound from what he calls a “terrible season” in 2011 this year, he believes the team will, too.

“Yeah, exactly. We keep saying, ‘No rebuilding,’” Williams said. “This is just a chance to move forward. Everyone is doubting us again so we have a chance to prove a lot of people wrong.”

Last modified on Monday, 30 July 2012 12:19

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  • avatar

    We will see about Jackson...but Williams he had that kind of production and admitted that like a lot of his team mates last year...they did not have the drive partying too much no off season...this kid is the real deal 130 catches first two years some just plain amazing sorry Horse but Parker can never be as overall talented as 19 i am sure Sullivan sees it all day long!!!
  • avatar

    Horse, I guess in a way we are both wishing we could fix all the Defensive problems this year, but that will not happen prudently until next year in the draft or free agency. I would rather just trade for a draft pick at this point. Trading for just an experienced LB, like a B. Ruud for instance, is not going to fix our true pass rush problems anymore than staying put with the younger and cheaper LB's with more potential that we already have; now that we have more time this year to work on tackling and assignment fundamentals in a full non-strike preseason and mini-camp with what I feel is a better coaching staff. If we really were pressing for a championship this year, we would have offered a trade for a disgruntled proven player under franchise tag like Cliff Avril with the Lions; but then, that would truly stress us against the salary cap with our recent FA additions and it would also rob us of an additional #1 draft pick in the 2nd year of the trade. I say trade extra above average WR for a draft pick. Grab an experienced LB after the final roster cutdowns if we really feel we need another one; they will be available for little compensation by then.
  • avatar

    You have to love Williams' attitude and desire to get better when there are countless others who would be totally satisfied with that 2011 production. I've always liked Preston Parker who I think is a smoother, faster version of Ike Hilliard. Not sure he's better than Mike Williams at this point. After being kicked off of the FSU team Preston has taken this opportunity and is excelling. I suspect the entire receiving corps will be much improved simply because the opponent will have to be wary of the running game.
  • avatar

    I like Horse's idea of trading one of the Receivers for a linebacker. But the way things are going we may need to trade two of them cause we need a DL as well. If Bowers is out for most of the year and Price is a no go for the start of the Season we need to seriously be thinking about an End or Tackle to add to the depth of the line.
  • avatar

    The additions to the team have been exciting; but, I've really been hoping to see some of my favs really turn it on(one was Brian Price; but, things are just not going in the right directions for him; he'll probably end up playing for another team; i don't know how I feel about that; i really wanted to see a McCoy/Price tandem at work! Not to mention a Clayborn/Bowers tandem) But, Mike Williams is another fav I'd really like to enjoy watching this coming up season! Things are looking really exciting with Mike this season!
  • avatar

    He was admitting he was awful all last season. We know. Little less talk, a lot more action...
  • avatar

    He better be looking to bounce back~before the Bucs bounce his *censored* out the door...
  • avatar

    Horse, I am more concerned about getting a quick pass rushing DE than another average linebacker in a trade for one of our average receivers not named VJax. No pass rush= more Brady, Brees, Ryan, Newton and NFC East touchdown passes! I am excited, not fearful to see how David and Foster do this year with their young speed in pass coverage. Of course, jury is still out on Black; but we can probably plug and play others around him more effectively this year with better safety play from Barron and Rhonde.
  • avatar

    atlantabuc, I can agree with that, but I don't think it would be a trade/swap with that kind of an impact player. Do you have a player in mind that we could obtain that could be a starter for a 2nd or 3r rounder? I am excited also to see what our new LB's can do, but I also understand that David, Goode will be inexperience and will have lots to learn. Foster should definitely be better, but Watson and Black are really just back ups. I think we really do need an older LB with some experience to help these younger players. Thanks for the input.
  • avatar

    It could also be that Williams has just performed the best he can and he is at the top of his game. I think Preston Parker is faster and better than Williams at this point. Benn on the other hand hasn't reached that yet in my opinion. I still believe that we could take one of our receivers and trade him for a LB that a team has an up and coming replacement ready to take his place. We need more talent at the LB spots.
  • avatar

    I don't think it was a "terrible" season that would be more suited for Benn than Williams, he does need to hold onto the ball more he has about 1-2 dropped passes a a game. I think he will flourish with VJax there to take the coverage and the top corner away from Williams. I just hope maybe he can get some pointers from Michael Clayton on how to bounce back after an "off" yr, lol just kidding
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