Roy Williams says he won't demand the football but it would be hard to blame him if he isn't wondering privately about the distribution of passes in the Lions offense.
Although Williams is among the NFL leaders with 70 receptions for 1,127 yards, he had only two passes thrown his way in the 17-9 loss Sunday at Green Bay (none in the second half) and he still has not scored a red zone touchdown in 14 games this season, mostly because the ball is seldom thrown his way in the red zone.
And it is apparently the play-calling of offensive coordinator Mike Martz -- not the decision-making of quarterback Jon Kitna -- that is responsible for the sometimes confusing use of Williams in the offense.
Whatever the explanation, Williams has steadfastly refused to second-guess either his coordinator or his quarterback. He says he hasn't demanded the ball from his quarterback since his rookie season.
"Back in my youth -- my first year -- I was like that," said Williams, a third-year receiver. "I wanted the football, I'd tell you on the sideline, 'Gimme the ball. Yada, yada.' That doesn't work. "These coaches know what they're doing ... there's no need for me to rant and rave that I want the football.
"If they want to give me the football, they give me the football. If they don't, then they don't. My thing is when I get the opportunity, I've just got to make the best of the opportunity."
The idea and the theory are noble, but it is still hard for some to understand why Martz at times does not seem to maximize his best receiver. In the Green Bay game, for instance, Williams caught an 11-yard pass in the first quarter. Kitna threw to him again a few plays later, the ball was intercepted by Al Harris and Williams didn't get another ball the rest of the game.
Asked about it Monday, Williams obviously wasn't happy with the way things had gone but he did not complain to the media.
"I was on the outside yesterday," he said.
And, because the Packers were doubling him outside, it left the inside receivers better opportunities to get open. Mike Williams, who had caught just one pass all season, ended up with three catches for 42 yards.
Williams obviously felt he could have adjusted his routes and gotten open
also but the game plan called for him to run deep routes and out routes.
Wide receiver Mike Williams knows better than to get too excited by one day of modest success in what has been a forgettable second NFL season.
Williams emerged from offensive coordinator Mike Martz's doghouse to catch three passes for 42 yards (he had just one for seven yards in the first 13 games) but he says he's not sure exactly what his success in the 17-9 loss at Green Bay means.
"I don't know -- a step forward, a step to the side, I don't know," he said, in response to a question. "Today, I'm doing this; tomorrow, I'm 280 pounds and x, y, z. So you live with today, it's a loss. Go watch film tomorrow and get ready for tomorrow."
Williams, the Lions' first pick in the 2005 draft, has been through a roller-coaster ride in the 2006 season under Martz and coach Rod Marinelli.
They have alternately praised him for his efforts on the practice field and criticized him for being overweight and too slow for the offense Martz runs.
With teammate Roy Williams press coverage from Packers cornerback Al Harris and additional coverage from a Green Bay safety, Mike Williams turned out to be an accessible target for quarterback Jon Kitna.
"Guys were doubled," Williams said. "They had guys following Roy and this and that with Mike (Furrey). The middle was there most of the game but we had a game plan and tried to stick to it as best we could. When that didn't work we went to something else and it happened to work. It happened to be me that was doing it and it was good but we lost so you don't get too happy about it."
Marinelli Not Worried About Draft Prize
Although the Lions are locked in a battle with the Oakland Raiders for the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft next spring, coach Rod Marinelli -- predictably -- said he hasn't given a moment's thought to who or what the Lions will look for in the draft.
"You know, I couldn't answer that right now," he said, in response to a reporter's question. "Reason is, I'm focusing on this season and I'm going to focus on these last two games with every amount of energy we have and do as good a job as we can for this football team. And then, when this is done, I'm going to zero in on that."
The Lions and Raiders are tied for the NFL's worst record at 2-12 with two games remaining on the schedule. The Lions face Chicago at Ford Field and then finish the season at Dallas, which gives them a good chance to finish the season at 2-14. The Raiders are at home against Kansas City on Saturday and play their season finale on the road against the Jets.
The Lions have a mountain of needs they could address with the No. 1 pick. Among them -- a dominating offensive line, a pass rusher and a quarterback of the future. So far, Marinelli says he has done absolutely no preparation.
"That's scouting," he said, "and those guys are on that. That's their job
right now -- out watching tape and watching games and so on and so forth."