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Sept. 21, 2005

Posted: Wednesday September 21, 2005 12:31PM; Updated: Wednesday September 21, 2005 5:27PM
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Cowboys' Williams Overrated

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Cowboys safety Roy Williams is one of the most overrated defensive players in the NFL. Calling the two-time Pro Bowler overrated has been fashionable of late, but it was more clear than ever during Monday night's 14-13 loss to the Redskins.

ABC announcers John Madden and Al Michaels were too busy working on Williams' Hall of Fame induction speech to notice Dallas' hold on the game was slipping late in the fourth quarter. The announcers were justifiably awed by Williams' sack of Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell. But I think Williams buys into the hype about his ability to make big plays (read: big hits) and doesn't concentrate on being a defensive back and play cautious when he has to. Out of desperation late in the game, the Redskins started taking shots downfield and their receivers were getting behind Williams and the Cowboys' defenders, who clearly didn't think Brunell could beat them deep.

With just over four minutes left, Brunell lofted a bomb downfield to Taylor Jacobs that Williams knocked down in the end zone. Madden and Michaels went nuts over the play, until they realized the ball went right through Williams' hands and could have easily been picked off. You can't criticize Williams for not getting the interception, but you have to rip him for letting Santana Moss beat him for 39- and 70-yard touchdowns in the final minutes of the game even though the Cowboys were in prevent mode.

This season has been a showcase for elite safeties. Troy Polamalu, Mike Brown and Brian Dawkins have all had tremendous starts, and Ed Reed and Rodney Harrison continue to play at a high level. The difference between this group and Williams is they excel in every facet of the position. They can all cover as well as they rush the quarterback and deliver big hits on running backs. Williams isn't even an average cover safety.

There's nothing wrong with not being a perfect player. But Williams is considered the face of the Cowboys' young defense, and he'll probably be named to the Pro Bowl annually. He's a ferocious blitzer and he can change games with his hitting ability. The question is does he help the Cowboys win week in and week out? No matter what Michaels and Madden say, the answer is no.

-- Andrew Perloff (12:45 p.m.)

I am a huge cowboys fan and I could not agree more with your statement on Roy Williams. He is a liability in pass coverage and how many big hits does he whiff on. I like him, but he needs to improve.
-- Tim Hay , Jacksonville (12:48 p.m.)

Roy Williams is as overrated on Defense as Mike Vick (the QB not the RB) is on offense.
-- Justin, Pennsylvania (12:49 p.m.)

I have always thought that since he entered the league that Roy Williams looked as though he was too heavy to be an all around safety. Even Bill Parcells said that he "was one biscuit away from being a linebacker." Roy needs to drop more pounds than QBs if he wants to be considered amongst the elite.
-- Joe C., Boston (12:54 p.m.)

Talk about overrated, what about Darren Sharper? Announcers are always saying how good he is and that he has more interceptions over the past few years than any other player. So what? The guy is slow and takes poor angles when trying to tackle RBs. Yeah, he gets over five picks a year, but none of these are impressive, usually fly balls that an overweight right fielder could catch. As a Packers fan I'm glad the Vikes decided to downgrade their secondary with an old, slow, overrated player like Sharper.
-- Jason, Madison, Wisc. (12:56 p.m.)

The Redskins' Sean Taylor was the definitely the best safety in the Washington-Dallas game.
-- Maxx, Oklahoma City (12:59 p.m.)

Big-time Cowboys fan here and I think you are on the money regarding Williams. Until he improves his coverage skills he should not be considered one of the best in the league. At this point he is better suited to play linebacker. Although I think Sean Taylor of the Redskins is in a similar situation. I consistently here the media hype him up and then on Sundays he is out there making mistakes in coverage.
-- Brian , Washington D.C. (1:01 p.m.)

Big hitters are and always will be overhyped. There is nothing more exhilarating than watching a strong safety take out a poor, defenseless receiver on a crossing route. That is why John Lynch (also overrated), Donovin Darius (who killed Robert Ferguson last year) and Roy Williams will always get overhyped even though they probably could not cover anybody like Ed Reed and Brian Dawkins can. If I want to see some big hitting, I'll watch an Mike Tyson fight. In the mean time, I want to see some good football played. Don't you?
-- Chris , Atlanta (1:05 p.m.)

In response to your slamming of Roy, I would like to say that the order you listed those other safeties in is arguably perfect and that Roy would be number six. I'd say the sixth best safety out of 32 isn't all that bad now, is it?
-- Grady Parr , San Angelo, Texas (1:09 p.m.)

Andrew, you couldn't be more correct. I've been telling people that Roy Williams couldn't make the starting lineup at either safety position on several NFL teams. Big hits do not equal great safety...total game does, and obviously he doesn't have it.
-- Greg , San Antonio (1:10 p.m.)

You guys have made almost anybody with a star a star. E.g., soon clowns like you will vote in Michael Irvin in front of Art Monk -- irrespective of the numbers and irrespective of respectability. Monk retired the all-time leading receiver, like Largent and Joyner before him; they go in Monk stays out -- when Irvin goes in before him, all of football will have lost. Not only is Roy Williams not among the great, he is a dirty player. He actually slammed Wuerffel's head against the turf on the sidelines a few years ago down in Dallas. Williams is slow and will never be a cover man. As for safeties to watch Sean Taylor. Keep keeping him off the lists of the worthy. When it is all said and done, he will have no peers at the position save Lott, Atwater, Houston and Tatum.
-- Mark Jefferson , Washington D.C. (1:11 p.m.)

Why is it that Brian Dawkins hasn't had the amount of hype and popularity that Ed Reed or Roy Williams have had even though he has been consistently great throughout his career?
-- Tyler Walzak , London, Ontario (1:13 p.m.)

Be sure to check out Jeffri Chadiha's column on Dawkins from earlier this week. Although Dawkins also got burned on a long pass, he was incredible in the season-opener against the Falcons.
-- AP (1:14 p.m.)

I disagree, Roy is a strong safety. There lots of SSs that aren't the best cover guys. But he is disruptive and teams don't like to go over the middle because they are afraid to get hit by him!
-- Brandon , Iowa City, Iowa (1:15 p.m.)

Yeah, Williams had two awful plays against Washington. Still, it has become fashionable to pick on him, especially after a bad game. For example, Dawkins gave up the long TD to Atlanta and they lost by less than seven. Why isn't Philly's loss his fault? Also, the two sacks Dawkins got were because he went unblocked; not because he made some sort of genius play. All DBs get beat sometimes. I'm not convinced Williams is that poor of a cover man yet.
-- Reed Cochran , Waco, Texas (1:17 p.m.)

I would have to agree with you. Unfortunately, this trend of turning athletes into superstars before they perform is nothing new. ESPN has been doing it for years and other media outlets are following suit. The way I see it the sports analysts have a 50/50 chance of being correct. Therefore, it is difficult to anticipate any changes in the future.
-- Dennis , Honeoye Falls, N.Y. (1:20 p.m.)

I have not seen much of Roy Williams play, but he sounds just like John Lynch, who I consider the most overrated defender in the last 10 years. The torch has been passed...
-- Eric , Milwaukee (1:38 p.m.)

Yes, Roy got beat on two deep throws at the end of the game, and he should have made the interception that would have probably ended the game. But to say he's overrated is way off base. He had a couple of tackles, a pass deflected, a sack and a forced fumble that should have led to points at the end of the first half. The Cowboys know his strength is not in deep coverage, as he is more of a strong safety than a free safety. They should have been in a dime package with a couple of extra DBs playing very deep to prevent long completions at the end of the game. I blame the coverage package more than him for those two completions.
-- Jim , Silver Spring, Md. (1:46 p.m.)

I have been a Cowboys fan my whole life and I would like commend safety Roy Williams despite what happened Monday Night. In all fairness, Roy had to switch positions this year from the strong to free. Now, for Mr. Perloff to say he is overrated is really an unfair shot at a young player technically still learning how to adapt to covering more. At Oklahoma, Roy was known for making big hits and coming up with timely turnovers, not for his cover skills. I truly think that Williams will adapt instinctively to his new position and produce and help lead that new, invigorated defense back to the playoffs. The only thing that Mr. Perloff and I agree on is that he will make many pro bowls, but the difference is that he would have earned his spot!
-- Vaughn Hines , Fairfield, Ala. (1:55 p.m.)

I'm not sure you can say he is "overrated" by anyone outside of Madden and Michaels. You really don't hear that much about how great he is from anywhere else. Fact is, he's a pretty good player and I would trust Parcells' judgment over yours any day of the week. If he was as overrated as you say then he wouldn't be on the Cowboys team right now.
-- Russ C. , Dumfries, Va. (2:32 p.m.)

What has Bill Parcells ever achieved that I haven't? Just kidding, but I wasn't implying Williams shouldn't be on the field for the Cowboys. And I do think there is a lot of superstar talk surrounding Williams, and it's not just the ABC guys that overrate him.
-- AP (3:02 p.m.)

I think you're right and that Dallas should move him to outside linebacker. He's got more than enough size, speed, and tackling ability for LB and he plays SO much better the closer to the line of scrimmage he gets.
-- Richard , Dallas (3:07 p.m.)

Come on ... Roy Williams is a nasty safety. He is more of a run stopper/blitzer than he is a coverage safety but Aaron Glenn was playing like 10 yards off the receiver and just got toasted in coverage. Roy reacted a bit late and Brunell threw two perfect balls. Let's not go and knock Roy Williams down just because of those two plays. If the line had some pressure on Brunell, if Glenn had jammed the receiver off the line etc. etc. Get my point??
-- Ryan , New Haven, Ct. (3:17 p.m.)

I wouldn't really say that he is earning his Pro Bowls. He is a big hitter, but coverage skills are more important as a safety. The safety is the last line of defense and should be able to cover a receiver down field. It was his job to prevent Santana Moss from getting into the end zone once Glenn had been beaten.
-- Drew , Charleston, S.C. (3:22 p.m.)

As a safety, Williams is a great linebacker. Heck, the Cowboys ought to ask him to put on another 5-10 pounds and move him to linebacker, where he could avoid covering receivers. He'd be a little small, but he'd still be at least as big as Dexter Coakley, and Coakley and a good career in Dallas. His size wouldn't fit the linebacker position in the 3-4, but he'd get a chance to make the kind of plays he excells at -- sacks, stuffing the run, battering people on short crossing routes.
-- Malcolm Maclachlan , Sacramento, Calif. (3:29 p.m.)

Why are you hating? The truth is Williams excelled at a young age and by the time he is 30 or 31 he will be able to cover like Dawkins. He might not ever be able to hit as hard Rodney but the kid can hit. He isn't even a cover safty but he does his job well.
-- Tubby , San Diego (3:36 p.m.)

I totally agree and I actually sent a letter into Dr. Z saying exactly what you said. To the fans that are defending him, it's not that he can never get beat, and yes Dawkins gets beat on occasion but as a Giant fan I've seen Dawkins make way more plays than Roy Willams. In addition to the six guys you named, I think Minter, Adrian Wilson,and Ken Hamlin are better than Willams
-- James , Queens, N.Y. (3:36 p.m.)

If you don't get into Dr. Z's mailbag column, I can tell you right now that Dr. Z feels the same way as I do about Williams. Z respects him as a game-changing hitter, but thinks Williams simply is not a cover guy.
-- AP (3:58 p.m.)

All this talk about Roy, Brian and Ed but what about the Lawyer up in Buffalo. He's fast, he covers and he tackles with the best of them.
-- Carlo Rozzi , Toronto (4:02 p.m.)

I agree totally that Roy Williams is overrated. He's about consistent as Champ Bailey's been in recent seasons.
-- Kendal , Atlanta (4:09 p.m.)

I agree totally that Roy Williams is overrated. He's about consistent as Champ Bailey's been in recent seasons.
-- Jeff Looker , Bakersfield, Calif. (4:39 p.m.)

Being from Oklahoma and an avid Sooner fan, I know full well about Williams' shortcomings as a cover safety. Yes he can bring the pain and makes big plays when a lot of athletes don't (or can't) but he has got to work on his coverage abilities to become a truly Hall of Fame safety.
-- BP , Edmond, Okla. (4:58 p.m.)