It’s kind of crazy how certain players play for the same coach regardless of who the team is.
Take tight end Owen Daniels for example. For every season of his career—2006-2015—Daniels played under coach Gary Kubiak. This included his time in Houston from 2006-2013, Baltimore in 2014, and Denver in 2015.
Offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur no stranger with working with some of the best coaches and coordinators in football, including Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, and one player that seems to be constantly playing under him is wide receiver Nick Williams.
In the first preseason game against the Packers, Williams led all Titans in receiving yards with 38. As you may have already figured out, however, all those yards came off one catch. Still, Williams in my opinion deserves a shot at making the Titans’ 53-man roster.
In Atlanta, Williams showed flashes of great slot receiving play whenever he did get the ball. Against the Rams in 2016, Williams contributed to the Falcons’ blowout win, converting some crucial first downs while putting up four catches for 49 yards. He only played one game in 2017 (against the Bills), and caused an interception when he failed to haul in a pass from Matt Ryan.
On Friday, Williams was targeted three times (the box scores say four, but one of them was clearly a throwaway), so we’ll look at each target to display the quality of Williams.
Williams’ signature move is the three-step jab, as shown on his catch. Coincidentally, The only accurate throw he ever got was made by Marcus Mariota, but that’s beside the point. Matt LaFleur stacks the slot with two receivers, and the other slot receiver clears space for Williams by running a shallow crossing route.
That doesn’t make Williams’ route any less impressive, but it shows that LaFleur is familiar with how to get the most out of the slot receiver. With this in mind, Williams makes a quick, smooth three-step jab, allowing Mariota to immediately fire a strike to him. Williams attacks the ball and breaks into the open field, getting loads of yards after the catch in the process.
This time, Blaine Gabbert is the quarterback, and because of this fact, Williams is immediately screwed.
Here, LaFleur calls for a pick play, as Williams is schemed open on a quick out route. He can’t haul in the pass, but Gabbert’s throw is late and behind, so this is not on the wide receiver.
Like the first target, Williams executes the three-step jab to perfection. He leaps, comes down and furiously executes the three-step jab to get himself open on the quick slant route. Apparently Gabbert didn’t get the memo, as his pass is once again behind Williams, who despite his best efforts can’t bail out the former first round pick. (crazy, right?)
Don’t look at these as drops. Williams was not given catchable, accurate enough throws from Gabbert on these two attempts, and did all he could to get open. Besides, the connection from Mariota is pretty sweet on its own.
With his chemistry with Matt LaFleur and his impressive preseason showing thus far, Nick Williams deserves to stick around a little while longer in Tennessee. Will that guarantee a 53-man roster spot? That has yet to be determined, but Williams has the potential to be a contributor in the slot for the Titans.