It’s late into the first quarter as Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers lines up in a shotgun formation. The clock is ticking away, seconds rapidly declining on the scoreboard inside of Century Link Stadium as the Seattle Seahawks prepare to make a crucial third-down stop.
Up by a touchdown, Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers is matched up in man coverage on the outside as Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams comes up to the line of scrimmage set. As the clock strikes zero, Rivers call for the ball just in time. Williams comes out of his break and aims right for the end zone.
Closing the cushion on Flowers, the fourth-year receiver runs a perfect comeback route towards the pylon. Rivers sees the opportunity and delivers a low throw towards Williams’ back shoulder, placing it only where the 26-year-old receiver can make the grab.
As he begins to fall, Williams opens his arms, finds the ball and secures it as his knee touches the turf. There’s no denying it. It’s a touchdown and the home of the 12th man is silent. Williams knows it, Rivers knows it, the stadium knows it. It’s perfect strike from the veteran quarterback to his emerging receiver.
As he stands to celebrate, Williams places his hands towards his helmet and listens to the sounds of boos and vulgar language coming his way. He doesn’t care; he’s heard worse before. In the loudest stadium across the NFL, Williams has quieted the crowd to a near whisper.
“I was just trying to see if I could hear them still,” Williams said. “That kind of quieted them down a bit.”
But perhaps he’s calling out to more than just those inside of Century Link. Maybe he’s calling those who haven’t gotten on board his bandwagon, yet.
He’s calling out to the critics. Those in the press box who write poorly of him. Those who have called him a “bust” or “basket case” or even a “trick” for a Halloween article. With his fifth touchdown catch of the season, the sounds of negativity are long gone. Only those praising his name will be able to stand in his presence.
Let’s call it what it is, Williams has silenced the critics and proven to the NFL community that he indeed is a talented receiver that can have a luxurious career in this league.
“I think we just know we have confidence in the plays that we can make,” Williams said via Chargers.com. “I think we got the coverage we wanted and it’s just up to us to make those plays when we have the opportunity.. We got the confidence in our receivers and in our room, so we know everyone else is going to take care of their job so from there it’s easy.”
It’s not just Williams who has been on a tear this past eight weeks of the season. All three Chargers receivers have been coming into their own element and playing a crucial part during Rivers’ hot streak this season.
Second-year wide receiver Mike Williams is looking more and more like the first-round selection Chargers general manager Tom Telesco drafted back in 2017. The 6-4, 220 pound receiver might have only had one catch during the team’s 25-19 victory over the Seahawks, but it was a big one. Running a smooth comeback route against man coverage, the former Clemson star used his massive frame to overpower defenders and bully his way into the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown.
Keenan Allen is still Rivers’ go-to target and has been one of the better possession receivers in the league this year. Finishing his day with six receptions for 124 yards, the fifth-year receiver now has collected 47 catches for 630 yards and is averaging 13.4 yards per catch. He currently ranks in the top 25 among all active pass catchers in both receptions and receiving yards.
But then there’s Williams. The deep threat. The boundary guy. The guy who can do it all. While his numbers might not be as high as the likes of Allen and the younger Williams, No.16 has been a reliable target since Week 4 of the NFL season and isn’t slowing down.
Following a sluggish start of just seven receptions for 70 yards, the Western Oregon product might be one of the more consistent options in for the Bolts offense. During the team’s five-game win streak, Williams has collected 15 receptions for 373 yards and five total touchdowns.
Williams is currently averaging 20.5 yards per catch, ranking third among all active receivers. According to NextGen Stats, he is averaging 16 yards per reception through the air, a substantial number for a team’s deep threat. He currently ranks 6th in that category as well.
His teammates are starting to notice as well.
“We had two touchdown passes on contested plays,” Rivers said. “Tyrell did of a heck of a job. I was afraid he wasn’t going to have enough room, but he stayed in bounds.”
So here they are, the Chargers are at 6-2 and are becoming one of the better teams in the AFC. With the offense clicking on all cylinders, it will be hard for teams to matchup every week and stop the aerial attack that Chargers coach Anthony Lynn and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt have in place.
Each receiver has carved out a significant role in Rivers game plan. The young Williams is a red zone boundary target who will see his number called in contested catches. Allen will continue his approach as the team’s possession receiver, setting the Bolts up to score.
As for Williams, he has become the wild card of the offense. While primarily the deep threat, Williams has shown the ability to be a reliable target in the red zone as well as an option on the short route to help keep drives alive.
The Chargers offense could be one of the best in football down the stretch as they prepare for a chance to dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West. The method should be simple; wait patiently, find Williams and let him do the rest.
So for all those who doubted him, time to eat your words. It’s safe to say that No.16 is truly emerging as No.1 in the Chargers nation hearts. Just take the L and wish him nothing but the best.
He’s earned it.