Reggie, We Want You to Dance

It was pretty much a given that after the 2006 football season, we would know which direction Reggie Williams was heading, and we'd have solid evidence of whether he is just a late blossomer, or the bust that many national media outlets have labeled him. So it's April of 2007 and guess what? We still have no idea.

About a year ago, I wrote an article about Reggie Williams titled "Put up or Shut up". Basically, the article reviewed Reggie's career up to that point, and showed that his third year had to be the year that he had to step up and play near his potential. I compared Reggie to a lot of late blossoming receivers, such as Steve Smith, Santana Moss, Eric Moulds, Terrell Owens, Donald Driver, Hines Ward, and Marvin Harrison, none of which notched their first 1000 yard receiving season until their third seasons or later. I also showed that Reggie could go the way of Peter Warrick, Travis Taylor, and/or David Terrell, who were top ten picks who never really made their way to stardom, or anywhere close to it in the NFL.

Reggie Williams' 2006 season was basically a tale of two seasons. There was his breakout season, which only lasted five games, and there was the Reggie of old, that seemed to be lost in the offense. During the first five games of 2006, Reggie had 24 receptions for 297 yards, and four touchdowns. That's a full season pace of 77 receptions for 950 yards, and 13 touchdowns. Those would've been borderline pro bowl stats.

So what actually happened during the final 11 games of the season? Reggie Williams turned into the Reggie Williams of 2004. 28 receptions for 319 yards, and no touchdowns. So what happened to Reggie from the first five games of the season until the end of the season? It's not what happened to Reggie, it's what happened to Byron. Between games five and six, quarterback Byron Leftwich's ankle injury flared up and it cost him to miss the final ten games of the season. In comes David Garrard, down goes Reggie Williams stats. Reggie went from a 77/950/13 pace, to a 41/464/0 pace. His stats went from a pro bowler to a third/fourth string wide receiver.

So anyone who doesn't have their head completely buried in the sand can tell that Reggie made strides in 2006, as long as he had a capable passer to get him the football. Need more proof? Look at what happened during the one half of football that backup quarterback David Garrard was benched in the season finale. Reggie caught six passes for 90 yards. It appeared that the Reggie Williams of the first five games of the season suddenly returned, and the only change to the team, was the change at the quarterback position. When Reggie was asked about the difference of his production between the two quarterbacks, Reggie said that "Byron is my guy." He went on to say that he feels that he is a better player when Byron is the quarterback because the two of them have spent so much time together, and are good friends both on and off the field. This is why they are on the same page when the two of them are on the field together. The stats prove that Reggie is right.

Reggie is a gifted athlete who has superior confidence. He's also a very hard worker and he was in Jacksonville for conditioning drills last week. Reggie said that he was also planning on spending time with Byron in the off-season, to get on the same page again. Last season he started showing people why his confidence is founded, and this season is crucial for him, as it is for the rest of the team and coaching staff. In Reggie's contract, he has the ability to void the last two seasons and become a free agent. Reggie and his agents saw the money that was being passed around in this years' off season, and if he can put up the numbers that he thinks he's capable of (triple digit receptions), some NFL team will have to back up a Brinks truck to deliver his signing bonus. However, if Reggie's numbers are what they have been in his first three years, he will likely be looking for employment somewhere else.

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