By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) The Bears were in the process of mounting a comeback against the Chiefs that might have allowed them to turn a galling defeat into a wipe-your-brow victory.
With just over four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Bears were at the Chiefs 13-yard line with a first down play. Caleb Hanie, who has looked utterly miserable for most of two games, was in a position to wipe out a 10-3 deficit. Hanie threw a pass over the middle to wideout Roy Williams, who was open and appeared ready to make a catch that could have resulted in a touchdown.
Hanie’s pass hit Williams in a bad spot – the hands. It bounced off his hands as if it was a hot piece of coal. Up in the air it went, and before it could fall to earth and let the Bears fight for another down, it was tipped by linebacker Derrick Johnson. Safety Jon McGraw alertly dove and caught it in the endzone. The Chiefs took over at the 20.
Williams admitted his mistake but tried to minimize its impact. “It was my fault,” Williams said. “I’ve got to make those plays. Did that lose the game? Nope. There were a lot of things that happened before that that play. But it did make a difference.”
Nobody should be shocked by Williams’ drop. He has been treating thrown footballs as if they were hand grenades since he was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2004. Williams clearly looks the part of a great NFL player. At 6-4 and 210 pounds, he has the size and strength to win the battle against most NFL cornerbacks. However, he rarely plays to that strength and is regularly outfought on 50-50 balls by smaller and tougher opponents.
A close look at Williams career indicates that he has been consistently disappointing since being drafted out Texas in 2004. Williams was an average receiver during his first two seasons with the Lions before busting out with 82 catches for 1,310 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2006. That season was marked by some great run-after-the-catch efforts in Mike Martz’s Detroit offense. That aspect of his game soon disappeared and never returned.
After a decent 64-catch season in 2007, Williams has never caught more than 38 passes. Oh, he will point out when one of his catches results in a first down with a dramatic flourish, but those plays are far too infrequent. He is a diva in navy blue, unable to help the Bears out when their starting quarterback is injured and their star running back has gone down as well.
Instead of making big plays, he’s giving them away. Whether it’s concentration, confidence, guts or desire, something is clearly lacking in Williams game. The Lions learned that when they traded him in the middle of the 2008 season and the Cowboys learned that shortly after acquiring him.
The Bears knew they were not getting an All-Pro when they signed Williams after the lockout was settled during the summer. Williams had 19 drops from 2008 through 2010, but that figure doesn’t really tell the story. It doesn’t show how many routes he failed to run out properly or how many times he failed to extend for a poorly thrown ball.
Williams has not overwhelmed any of his teammates or coaches at any of his spots with his effort. Williams seems more intent on self-preservation than any other aspect. That’s not a good thing when you are in the pro football business. Williams has caught 24 passes for 335 yards and one touchdown in 11 games this season for the Bears. Those are numbers that barely register a blip on the radar. His 0-catch effort against the Chiefs was the third time he has been held off the stat sheet this season.
Williams is a pro football phony. He came out of Texas as a “can’t miss” prospect. He ran a 4.36 40 during his pro day workout and he impressed scout and GMs with his stated desire to be a great player.
Most teams bought in to his hype and the Lions paid him millions after they drafted him. Williams wanted the NFL uniform, status and money – not in that order – but he never has had any desire for contact.
He may never admit that, but he doesn’t have to. His play speaks loudly and it says that he is merely a shell of a football player.
If the Bears find a way to stop stacking losses and get their season back on track, it won’t be because of Williams. He is a lost cause who won’t contribute. It’s time to sit him firmly on the bench or let him walk. He’s done enough damage in Chicago.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.