Dallas Cowboys: A Terrance Williams Retrospective (what we learned)

Terrance Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Terrance Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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Terrance Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Terrance Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /


When Williams entered the league, cornerbacks weren’t actively looking to press him. They likely understood he wasn’t threatening them in off coverage so they played accordingly. Then Williams would beat them in off and then changes naturally occurred.

When he faced press coverage he was generally good. Cornerbacks rarely jammed him at the line of scrimmage so Williams could use his good foot quickness to foot fake his way past the defender. Not all cornerbacks are capable of jamming effectively because jamming incorrectly at the LOS likely leaves you behind the receiver in his stem.

But when he did get jammed, he wasn’t strong enough to play through it quickly. His route stem would be significantly disrupted. When you’re the hot route, you have to be strong enough to play through contact in your stem. Williams would struggle in this department.

In off coverage, he was worse. In off man, he couldn’t attack the leverage of the DB in phase because his acceleration was adequate. When he won against off coverage, he won by manipulating the blindside. When the cornerback is on the boundary and can see him through his peripherals, Williams didn’t have a clear understanding of how to attack his leverage.

In the case above, Romo was attempting a timing through on the curl out and saw Williams was working towards the sideline with limited room. On a cold Sunday night, Williams needed to create more space so he could adjust and not have to play that ball through contact while keeping his feet in bounds. By not being explosive, the cornerback didn’t feel the need to bail a few yards before breaking on the ball.


Below average manual dexterity with a poor catch radius. Not much else to talk about here…

Adjusting Ability

Oh look we were just talking about this!

Where do I start…  Remember when I brought up Terrance Williams’s hands being incredibly small. Yeah, it pretty significantly impacted this part of his game. Allow me to show you a few clips and let’s see what observations you identify?

In addition to these clips, we remember the 3rd-and-long versus Seattle in 2014 and the final touchdown in the playoff game versus Detroit, also in 2014. Williams has shown the ability to make some ridiculous catches, but there’s a common pattern between all of them. His catch radius is uncomfortably small.

Williams was poor at catching passes below his waist. Most of the passes thrown in his direction were located on the numbers or at his helmet. These facilitate easy body catches and hand catches that don’t require an immense amount of grip strength.

So even though there were plays where Williams would correctly locate the ball and complete 50/50 balls, the passes themselves were incredibly accurate. The number of times this happened really highlights the quarterbacks Williams had the luxury of playing within his career. Good ball tracking and solid body control mean very little if you can’t pluck the ball from the air at different angles.

It’s funny looking at the starting three receivers for the Cowboys right now and seeing, individually, how good they are at the catch point. When Williams was a starter, his catching ability was a tier below Witten, Bryant, and Beasley.

Yards after Catch

By far the most confusing aspect of the former Baylor Bear’s game, his ability to generate yards after the catch. He displayed adequate play strength, adequate play speed, and marginal explosiveness, but he still showed consistent ability to get downfield after the catch especially when targeted over the middle of the field. Surely that doesn’t add up?

Remember when I talked about his mental processing? His ability to see the field? This was a huge reason why he turned tight window completions into big gains. As mentioned before, Williams averaged over 20 yards per catch in his final season in college with his quarterbacks averaging 9.1 yards per attempt. Even in college Williams seemingly understood how to move the ball forward when the ball was in his hand.

Williams knew what angles to take in to avoid contact and had the lateral quickness to execute such runs. Cole Beasley continues to be effective in the same way but Williams is six inches taller. Quite impressive if you think about it!