My best friend has a tradition for the day that follows Monday. In the summer time, it’s Tank Top Tuesday, and in the workplace it’s Tie Day Tuesday.
Today at Inside The Star … it’s Terrance Williams Tuesday.
It’s a general rule of thumb that the third year for NFL wide receivers is when they either will become the star that they’re going to be…or they just don’t. Seeing as the swash-bucklin’, swag-struttin’, epic play-making Terrance Williams is entering that pivotal third year, I wanted to see how his first two measured up to some other Cowboy greats.
We’re going to go year-by-year here. First things first we’re going to compare T-Will’s rookie season to four other Cowboy rookie years. I chose some of the most prolific pass-catchers in recent memory. I decided not to go too far back in history as the NFL has become far more of a passing league than it was when the likes of Roger Staubach roamed the gridiron. I also picked players who shared a quarterback so that was another common denominator among these guys. Let’s do this damn thing.
Looking at these rookie years alone it’s pretty easy to be excited about Turn Up Time 83. He comes second in catches, first in yards and is tied for second in touchdowns. If you’re playing along at home don’t worry, I’ll unveil who these mystery players are a little later on, but if you guess them right I just might let you advance to the Showcase.
*Player A was injured a majority of his actual 2nd year, 1990 is technically his 3rd year in the NFL
With a full year of NFL experience under these guys’ belts most of them improved. Player B improved marginally while players C and D took some big steps towards becoming star receivers in the NFL. Terrance, like Player A, took a small step backward in both catches and yards, but still found a way to make his catches matter as he turned in more touchdowns.
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
Surprise! Michael Irvin, Alvin Harper, Terrell Owens, and current Cowboy Dez Bryant are the mystery players in our game show. And you know what? They ALL made a significant leap in their third year:
Michael Irvin took what is easily the largest step. He almost quadrupled his yardage output with almost five times as many catches, and he got into the end zone more times than he had in his career. Now to be totally fair his “sophomore” season wasn’t too spectacular as he was coming off of an ACL tear, he was still gelling with quarterback Troy Aikman, and the Cowboys’ were just finding their offensive mentality.
Alvin Harper is a really common comparison that people make with T-Will. People tend to liken Dez Bryant to Michael Irvin and just sum up the rest to, “Oh well Terrance makes a lot of big plays like Harper did.” While that’s certainly true, they’re more alike than that. Their sophomore seasons are damn near identical, with Terrance having twice as many touchdowns as Alvin.
Harper represents the closest emulation as he played almost the same role in the offense as Terrance does…wide receiver numero dos.
Ok, so I cheated a little here. Terrell Owens’ first three years actually came in a San Francisco 49ers uniform, but the point still stands.
T.O. will one day be in the Hall of Fame, and as of two years Terrance’s numbers can hang with him. He had a better rookie year than T.O. and averaged more yards per reception his sophomore season while still tying T.O. in touchdowns. T.O. was the first big-play receiver in the Tony Romo era and served as great experience for #9 getting acclimated to a more down-the-field passing attack.
Terrance Williams had a more productive Cowboy rookie year than Dez Bryant. Yeah, he did! To be fair Terrance’s rookie year probably benefited from the presence of Dez on the field in 2013, but facts are facts.
While Dez’s sophomore season is far and away better than Terrance’s it’s important to let all of this digest. For crying out loud, Terrance only had two less touchdowns in his first two years combined than Dez did. Seeing as Dez Bryant is one of the premiere red zone targets in the NFL this bodes well for Terrance’s future.
So what does all of this mean? Terrance Williams stacks up very well next to some notable Cowboy receivers’ careers over the last twenty or so years. Not only does he stack up well against them, but also he stacks up well against guys in similar situations and fellas who ran routes for the same quarterback that he does.
Remember his first career touchdown? With 7:08 left in the third quarter and down by 15, Terrance hauled in an 82-yard bomb from Tony Romo, dashed for the end zone, and reignited the Cowboys’ hopes in the game. Terrance has made big plays just another part of a day at the office in two years. He seems to always be around the ball when it matters most. He had iconic moments against the Texans, Seahawks, and Detroit Lions just last year.
Keep in mind that Terrance Williams has gotten in more work with his starting quarterback in the offseason before his third year than any of these guys did, seeing as Dez Bryant has been absent for much of the OTAs and minicamps.
Terrance is on the verge of truly breaking out as an NFL receiver. He has all of the physical attributes (he’s 6’2” so he can certainly go up and get it), surrounding talent in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, the full confidence of Tony Romo, and Terrance now has plenty of experience to draw on.
Expect a lot of big plays from T-Will in 2015. Get excited because #TWillTuesday is going to be going on every Sunday this fall.