The Battle For The No. 2 Receiver

June 18th, 2012

From the moment Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik inked free agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson, it seemed common knowledge Bucs receiver Mike Williams would go from No. 1 to No. 2 receiver.

In the aftermath of the Jackson signing, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman all but bragged how defenses couldn’t roll coverage to Williams any longer and asked rhetorically, “Who are you going to double now?”

But Dan Parr of ProFootballWeekly.com seems to believe Mike Williams playing opposite of Jackson as the No. 2 receiver isn’t locked in.

Two third-year players are vying to start at wide receiver for the Buccaneers opposite marquee free-agent addition Vincent Jackson, and we hear there is no true front-runner for the job at this point. The Bucs are promoting a competition for the “Z” position and Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn will enter training camp, when the battle really could intensify, on a fairly even playing field.

The new coaching staff is not making promises to any of the contenders for the starting job and wants the best target to have the opportunity to emerge.

However, Williams, who has started all but one game over the past two seasons, and Benn are both expected to be involved in the offense no matter who starts. We also hear that Dezmon Briscoe, Preston Parker — who typically plays in the slot — and even Tiquan Underwood, who has only 11 career catches, also could get looks with the first-team offense at the “Z” position in camp.

True, under the New Schiano Order, Bucs coach Greg Schiano isn’t promising starting jobs to anyone, and that is smart. Make players earn their keep, earn their jobs. After a gutless 4-12 season, no starter’s job should be etched in stone.

But from everything Joe has seen and heard at Bucs minicamps and OTAs, and from talking to Williams himself, unless Williams completely melts down, playing the No. 2 receiver is Williams’ to lose.

32 Responses to “The Battle For The No. 2 Receiver”

  1. Adam Says:

    The base set should be 3-wide…. spread them out. Get people AWAY from the LOS to open up those lanes. I never understood that about the Bucs. FORCE the other team to cover receivers, not stack up against the run. If you’re going to leave a receiver open, hot-read and get it out to him. Any jack-ball with an XBox knows this.

    I honestly think that past coaches and OC’s on the Bucs squad were too passive. We always heard that the Bucs “take what the defense gives them.” Well F that. I say, we TAKE what’s OURS and if you can’t stop it, we’re rolling over you.

  2. Dini's Biceps Says:

    While Regis Benn is a nice guy & physical specimen, he’ll be the odd man out by mid-season. #2 Williams, #3 Parker while Briscoe is challenging Parker for the #3 spot (as long as his head is screwed on straight). Benn has hands of stone and low IQ

  3. princespanky Says:

    Williams just needs to clean up his routes and he’ll be a solid #2…. He’s not going to be physical which is fine but he will be a solid possession receiver. He’s got the hands and concentration and that’s what is going to be needed opposite Jackson going and getting home run balls.

    Very excited to see this offense in action. I think they will all elevate their game with the veterans added to the mix.

  4. Have A Nice Day Says:

    Just because Mike was the best RWR past two years doesn’t necessarily mean he will be the best at the LWR. I’d love to see him get more work in the slot personally. His ability to quickly cut and get in and out of breaks is the best on the team.
    Williams always reminds me of Muhsin Muhammad. A very solid possession receiver.

  5. Que589 Says:

    I hope there’s true competition. Williams is not good against press coverage or 50/50 balls or even getting separation. He has to improve in those areas; if not I’ll like to see Preston Parker or Briscoe (if he loves football) at the #2 receiver spot.

  6. princespanky Says:

    I didn’t see the 3 wide comment but I agree. Parker proved last year once the ball is in his hands he can get it done. When you have all those guys going nobody can defend that.

  7. T in Orlando Says:

    There’s no reason to think Williams will not be the #2 guy this year. For those who critique his game, saying he can’t separate or plays poor against press coverage, don’t seem to take into account that he did it his rookie year without a clear #1 WR ahead of him, and while last year wasn’t as good, it he still put up decent numbers for a 2nd year WR (65 catches, 771 yards, 3 TD).

    Now, even if he’s not strong against press, and is not the best at creating separation, add to the equation a bonafide #1 WR AND Quality coaching (not just for him, but also Freeman), there’s no reason to think he won’t post better numbers in his 3rd year.

  8. Garv Says:

    This is a good problem IMO. But it really comes down to whether or run the Buccaneers can run the ball effectively enough. We do that and have V Jackson as our 1 WO and Mike Williams, Benn, Parker and Co. will all get their catches and do well.

    Can’t WAIT!!!

  9. aj Says:

    Garbage. How anyone could watch Benn play the last two years and think he is ready to take a starting job from Williams, I just don’t get it.

    Williams got open just fine his first year. I still cannot recall a jump ball he has lost, and he has come down with most of them. And he was open enough last year. He was doubled, bracketed, rolled to. It’s just his QB wasn’t ready to read the types of defenses played against him, and other times the QB just didn’t have time.

    Mike Williams had some drops early in the year, for sure, but came on strong in the 2nd half, before Freeman stopped throwing to him in the last 3 or 4 games.

    And Parker is the #3, no one is taking it from him, they are not going to put him out wide, he is a slot receiver and appears to have the skills to be quite good there. So unless the Bucs go twins with their WRs, Parker won’t be the #2.

  10. buxter Says:

    It’s hard to imagine Williams not getting the nod. He uses his body better than anyone, has very good hands, fights for YAC and is a willing blocker.

    Oh yeah… and having the best chemistry with Freeman helps.

    Parker has the slot sewn up IMO. I just can’t see Benn going anywhere, but at the same time, don’t know where he fits either.

    Anyone else seeing Briscoe’s attitude being a K2 deja vu?

  11. WVBucfan Says:

    I’m more so looking at the 3 and 4 WR sets I’ve been hearing about. I think Been and Underwood can create huge miss-matches on the field with teams having to cover both Jackson and Williams over top.

  12. Bobby Says:

    You people underestimate Benn. He has elite speed and with a good receivers coach like Fleck I expect him to battle for the #2 spot. He and Parker are very dangerous after the catch. I agree that it is Mike Williams position to lose and I don’t expect him to lose it but I believe Benn will get plenty of balls thrown his way. Especially since he and V-Jax make it very hard for the defense to cover the deep ball. They can both get separation. Benn is a big strong kid and he hasn’t even begun to show what he’s capable of.

  13. Bobby Says:

    Notice in the photo above that Mike isn’t ‘biting the football’?? Tsk! Tsk!

  14. Rrsrq Says:

    In the games I attended last year, Free was shy on pulling the trigger to Dez. When he did it was usually a successful gain if not a td, Dez Briscoe is probably as talented as all the others completing for the number 2 or the slot, just get him on the field and I see as I saw last year, match-up problems. Williams, I believe will get the 2, did Syracuse ever play against Rutgers in the Big East before he got suspended? Williams has crazy hops, YouTube him dunking basketball in college, he can wi jump balls

  15. 941-Bucs Says:

    I don’t think Parker will push Benn or Williams out of the way for Z. Parker did excell at the slot, but so did Sammie Stroughter the year before. Now no one is talking about him.

    Benn is better on the deep balls and Post routes. While Williams is better on Slants and and cutting through traffic. Plus i believe this is the year Benn is going to shine like a super star at WR.

    My prediction is V-Jacks and Benn on the Wide out. Williams in the Slot, Parker will back up Williams and come in on 4 wide out options. Still keeps the best 11 on the field at the same time.

    Either way a good problem to have. I feel Benn is a harder worker then M. Williams. Williams has all the talent in the world and could be a super star, but i feel lacks the dedication to perfecting his craft it will take to be that. As Benn may be a bit behind in over all Talent but has the work ethic to be great.

  16. Que589 Says:

    T in Orlando

    Michael Clayton had one great rookie season. Teams get a full season of tape on you and make adjustments accordingly. We critique his game because thats what the coaches and the competition does. Not getting separation or winning on 50/50 balls has nothing to do with being a 1st, 2nd or 3rd receiver. No excuses he has to improve in those areas, if not then someone else should be the #2 receiver. The best players should play…gotta earn it

  17. 941-Bucs Says:

    My problem with Briscoe is his “ME” attitude. He doesn’t seem to care about the Team, he is only concerned with himself. He is a Diva and doesn’t even deserve to be. He has all the Talent in the world and probably the best hands on the team but needs a major attitude adjustment.

  18. Macabee Says:

    The Bucs are deep at WR and they are all talented. Along with the WRs already mentioned, Ed Gant, Sammie Stroughter, and Tiquan Underwood all performed well in OTAs. Some WRs that can play in the NFL is going to be released this year. Training camp will decide!

    As to who starts at what WR position, doesn’t make a differ bitterance to me!!

  19. robert Says:

    can someone call brian price and see if he will show up….it’s killin me

  20. OB Says:

    Joe, People rave about the new receiver’s coach, Fleck. I have no reason to doubt that is a very coach, but to me, it is interesting that nobody raved about the previous receiver’s coaches for the last few years.

    Now just suppose that the receivers are just like the defense that never learned how to tackle in the NFL, the receivers never really learned to run routes and how to catch and protect the ball. Could these receivers except for Vince, be learning how to be really good receivers for the first time, with corrective guidence continually given and watching Vince do it correctly? I don’t think it matters who is what number receiver on this team, what matters is who is good and rested for the next play. I think they will suffle in and out certain receivers depending on what they did on the last play and what the next play is going to be.

    I believe it is going to be fun to watch and read your reactions to training camp and to see the preseason games, but the first real game against Carolina will show this teams direction even if they barely lose or win.

  21. buxter Says:

    I’d like nothing better than Benn living up to his lofty draft pick. He’s easily the most explosive of any Buc receiver we’ve seen after the catch.

    But the fact we’ve heard so little about him so far this year. His work ethic/team guy isn’t of issue. Is the back channel rumble about issues with the playbook true?

    This staff will give every player a fair shot IMO. If it’s Benn/Briscoe/Parker on starting day, then they earned it

  22. Eric Says:

    With P.J Fleck I do not see how we can lose.

    Plucked him from his new position as Northern Illinois OC.

    If anybody should know the ins and outs of developing a pro football receiving corp, it oughta be him.

    He almost got in a game at Frisco that time.

  23. T in Orlando Says:

    Que589

    I’m not saying the critiques are off, in fact I even acknowledge that there maybe validity to what people view as Williams weakness. What I am saying is that even with with those weaknesses, his numbers were not all that bad. His numbers do reflect that he’s not ready to be a number 1 target, which is why VJ was the top priority in Free Agency.

    You bring up a great example of why I think people want to come down so hard on Williams, and that is Clayton. Most of the fans that are down on Williams will bring up Clayton as the example for their line of reasoning. However what those fans fail to recognize is that in his second, slightly regressed, sophomore campaign, Williams had to overcome no-offseason, poor coaching, and a team as a whole that just plain gave up, and he still managed to put up respectable numbers (not top WR numbers, but not as poor Clayton’s 2nd year numbers either).

    If people want to compare Season 1 of Michael Clayton’s career to season 1 of Mike Williams, that’s a fair comparison. But suggesting that Williams is becoming the next Clayton, because he regressed a little in season 2, is a stretch, and unfair to Williams.

  24. T in Orlando Says:

    Que589

    Almost forgot, you are right in that the best players should play, nothing handed to anyone. I just don’t see how any of the WRs not named Vincent Jackson, who were all on the roster last year as well, are going to all of a sudden be better than Williams. Don’t get me wrong, I like Parker, Benn, Stroughter and Briscoe (when his head is on straight), but I don’t think any have shown consistently shown more ability than Williams.

  25. Macabee Says:

    OB,

    I think the media’s focus on PJ Fleck has been his upbeat style and animated interaction with the WRs. That may indeed translate to success on the field but has not been proven yet.

    As for last year’s WR coach, Eric Yarber, he came to the Bucs with a much more impressive resume than Fleck. While at Oregon State, he is credited with developing both Chad Johnson (Ochocinco) and TJ Houshmandzadeh. As I recall both pretty good WRs that could run routes and catch the ball when they were with the Bengals.

    Anyway, your question is a valid one and may be answered in training camp. Yarber is now WR coach at UCLA with HC Jim Mora Jr.

  26. Que589 Says:

    T in Orlando

    I was just using Clayton as a reference not saying that Williams will end up w/ a Clayton-like career. I hope he doesn’t. They are all young receivers in development, vying for the #2 spot. Just because Williams had a great rookie campaign in 2010 and was the #1 receiver (option) in 2011 doesn’t mean he’s the best out of the group in 2012. That shouldn’t be the assumption, players can be surpassed in development. They all possess a different skill set. I just hope it’s a real competition and may the best man win

  27. Drew Says:

    V-Jax will help the other receivers develop and shine. Williams will excel this year as will Benn and Parker. Gant will likely be the 5th receiver. Briscoe, Stroughter and Tiquan won’t make the cut.

  28. thegregwitul Says:

    I think the only thing we really know for certain at the moment, outside of Vincent Jackson being the number one wideout for the Bucs, is the other five guys listed in the article (Williams, Benn, Briscoe, Parker and Underwood) will make up the rest of the receiving corp. So, this means farewell Sammie and Ed.

  29. Mr Lucky Says:

    Benn is a bust – should’ve traded him before the draft but I doubt we’d get anything but a 7th round pick.

  30. 941-Bucs Says:

    I don’t see Briscoe beating out Ed this year!

  31. Bobby Says:

    I’ve said before and I’ll say it again…..there are far more coaches who are good teachers and good coaches and never really excelled as a player than there are great players who became great coaches. PJ Fleck apparently is a very good teacher. That should translate well into good performance by our WR’s.

  32. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    I think this is a great problem to have. We have 3 awesome WRs and another couple good WRs. Running sets with Jackson and Williams on the outside and Benn in the slot is scary dangerous. And with 4 and 5 WR sets we can throw in Parker, Underwood, Shoemaker, or Briscoe if he makes the cut. If Josh can’t get it done with those WRs, OL, and stud RBs we have. He is done. But I expect a great season.

    If we rush the ball like coach wants too, WRs will be open on play action or normal pass plays. Its up to Josh to make the right read and complete the throw. I’m so ready for the season to start!!

 
 

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