Every summer leading up to training camp buffalobills.com examines 25 of the more pertinent issues facing the team as they make their final preparations for the upcoming regular season. This year we wanted to focus on a few different areas that impact the team off the field in addition to what takes place on the field. From now until report day at training camp we'll address these subjects one at a time. Here now is the latest daily installment as we closely examine some of the answers the Buffalo Bills have to come up with between July 18 and the Sept. 7 opener at Chicago.
**No one needs to be reminded about where the Bills passing game ranked at the close of the 2013 season. With top receiving weapons and quarterbacks in and out of the lineup due to injury through the course of the campaign Buffalo's aerial attack found it hard to develop consistent chemistry. Adding veteran receiver Mike Williams figures to cure some of those deficiencies in the team's passing game and here's how.
1 - High-pointer
There are more certainly more household names at the wide receiver position in the NFL than Mike Williams, but even some of the best receivers in the league don't possess the Buffalo native's ability to catch a pass at its highest point in the air. Though just 6-2, Williams has an innate sense of timing and climbs "the ladder" as well as anyone in the game to out jump defenders for passes.
"I kind of think of it as a dog," Williams explained to Buffalobills.com. "Some people have that dog in them. When I see that ball in the air it's mine or nobody's. That's really how I feel. A lot of people go out and say it where it's your ball or nobody's and I really feel like that. I feel like if the ball is in the air it's mine. I feel disrespected by an interception. I feel disrespected by a knockdown. So if the ball is in the air I try to get it at its highest point where you can't get it."
More often than not he succeeds.
2 – Proven scorer
Williams burst onto the NFL scene as a rookie in 2010 and lit up the scoreboard for Tampa Bay with 11 touchdowns. He turned in a touchdown every 6.5 catches that year. The following season he managed just three touchdowns, but rebounded in 2012 with a nine-touchdown campaign. Injuries last year largely held him to just a pair of TD catches.
In his career he's averaged almost a touchdown every two games, which ranks 18th in the NFL since he came into the league (2010). Williams is a reliable target particularly in the red zone where EJ Manuel will be able to trust him.
"You realize in this league scoring field goals is not enough. You've got to get touchdowns to win. When you're in the red zone you've got to capitalize on your opportunities," Williams said. "So basically our ultimate goal is to get wins and getting touchdowns gets wins. It doesn't matter what type of hit I take. It doesn't matter. In the red zone I won't let it go. That's just my rule."
3 – Film savvy
It's common to hear that NFL veterans know what to take away from film study and apply on the field to give themselves an upper hand on Sundays. Mike Williams possesses a film savvy that allows him to group opponents according to strengths and weaknesses and take advantage.
"I kind of look at everybody and put them in a certain category," said Williams. "Like, he's a guy who can break on the ball or he's a guy who's good in zones. You've got to try to master those guys as you master your plays.
"A lot of rookies come in and they just try to get all the plays down and just run the plays. But you've got to realize that you're going against different corners every week. Even with the guys I'm going to face in camp I try to master those guys. So when I see them I know I can run this route like this, or I know he's going to give up inside leverage. I know he's going to go for this. So not only mastering the playbook, but the corner too and it's much easier."
Williams has been sharing his expertise with the younger players in his position group to help give them an edge as well.