Before the 2012 NFL season began, Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Williams set a goal to have a bounce-back season after a self-proclaimed "terrible season" in 2011. As I wrote previously, his goal was indeed a necessary one if he wanted to get his career back on track after it had derailed after a promising rookie season. Now that the season has ended for the Buccaneers, giving us an opportunity to assess how well he accomplished his mission, it becomes apparent that Williams did indeed deliver on his promise of improving his play in 2012. Not only that, but he also put together his most complete season as an NFL wide receiver.
As a rookie wide receiver in 2010, virtually all of Williams's receiving value was derived from his ability to be a big-play wide receiver, catching balls deep downfield. In turn, his ability to stretch the field helped him provide value to his quarterbacks' yards per pass attempt average, but did nothing to help his quarterbacks' completion percentage. Although it was a pretty successful season, in order to truly establish himself as a productive wide receiver, it was going to be important for him to help his quarterbacks in more than just one statistical category.
Since his 2011 was a waste, it was incumbent upon Williams to demonstrate that in 2012, he was on his way to becoming a more complete wide receiver. This, he did by helping make his quarterbacks better in multiple categories.
According to play-by-play and pass target data provided by NFL.com, when Williams's receiving statistics were removed from his quarterbacks' passing statistics, the quarterbacks underwent a 2.5 percent increase in completion percentage (from 54.9 percent to 56.3 percent), a 2.7 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 7.3 to 7.1), a 5.8 percent decrease in adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 6.9 to 6.5), a 5.3 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 13.3 to 12.6), a 14.6 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (from 4.8 percent to 4.1 percent), and a 6.7 percent increase in interception percentage (from 3.0 percent to 3.2 percent).
Once again, Williams's biggest contribution to his quarterbacks came in the form of his ability to catch deep passes and touchdowns, but he also caught enough passes to be less of a detriment to his quarterbacks' completion percentage. In so doing, he was able to provide the most value of his three-year career to his quarterbacks' yards per pass attempt average.
Now, Williams still needs to take the next step and improve the value he gives to his quarterbacks in those statistical categories if he wants to be one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. Still, he looks to have his career back on track with a season that most advanced statistics can agree was his best yet.