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Evaluating Mike Williams' Career Year with WR Coach Chris Beatty
Beatty further discusses Williams, Keenan Allen's season, & the potential of Joshua Palmer and Jalen Guyton.
By Hayley Elwood Feb 10, 2022


2021 is in the rearview and 2022's offseason is here.

With that being said, we thought this would be a good time to check in with some people we don't hear from often: the Chargers position coaches.

A Conversation With the Chargers Position Coaches

Next up is wide receivers coach Chris Beatty.

Beatty discussed how the duo of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams had career years, and what he saw from some of the younger players on the roster.



Looking back on 2021 and the work you did with the wide receivers, what did you make of that group?

Chris Beatty: I think they did a great job. There's obviously things you want to improve on, but I think to have a pair of 1,000-yard receivers was phenomenal. Those guys took their game up a notch, I think Mike really did. I was really proud of the progression of Joshua Palmer, I think he got better as the season went along. And same with Jalen Guyton, his role expanded as the season went along as well. You could see him getting better.

You mention Keenan and Mike, what was it like to really tap in and unlock their potential and see them have the seasons they had?

Beatty: Keenan is a phenomenal player who I've been following for a long time. He's a guy I used to make cutups of at other jobs of his route running. Having to help him move on to an even higher level, too, that was fun.

I thought Mike had a lot of untapped potential as far as his route tree and expanding on some of the things he'd done in the past. I think everyone got a chance to see he's got a lot more to his game than deep balls and posting people up on 40-yard throws down the field or fade routes in the end zone. He can make plays in that 10 to 20-yard range as well and he did a great job at that and making people miss after the catch.

Those guys were receptive, too. You could look at it a little bit different but with a new system, I think they were happy with the opportunity of change.

When it comes to someone like Keenan, the longest-tenured original Charger on this team, how do you challenge someone like him at that point in his career and what did it mean to have the reception be reciprocated on Keenan's end?

Beatty: It was great for him to be receptive. I think a lot of it was aided by the fact that it was a new offense and new system. It wasn't like if I would have came in and it was the old system that he knew like the back of his hand. But he needed help, too. He needed coaching because it was a new system, he didn't know any of it. But I was new to it too. So it was a little bit of us learning together. But all the experience he's had, I was grateful he was receptive because he doesn't have to be. He was welcomed to the change and I was really excited about that and grateful for it.

DYNAMIC DUO

BOTH REACHED 1,000+ YARDS | ALLEN BROKE CHARGERS SINGLE-SEASON RECEPTIONS RECORD | WILLIAMS SET CAREER-HIGH IN SINGLE SEASON REC. YARDS

Alright, let's get to Mike. I think he was everyone's breakout star from this season.

We've heard from Joe Lombardi, Brandon Staley, and Mike in terms of the expansion of his role this year, but take me back to those early conversations and what did you see in him that determined he could do so much more than what he's done in the past?

Beatty: When you get into a new job and start looking at the players you have and assessing the tape from years past, I went back and watched every rep from him from the past three years to see how he was utilized. You could see the ability was there. He'd catch some slants, but just not very often.

It was one of those things where you'd have a conversation with him and show him the tape of the [New Orleans Saints] offense with Michael Thomas playing in that position, the routes he ran and some of the things he did that does fit Mike's game. We had an early conversation of what our expectations were and we almost hit dead on of what those [goal] numbers were. We were almost dead on with all of it. We sat down, him and I together. You could see it really from the first scrimmage at SoFi that this guy's got a different skillset than everybody else on our team. He's a matchup problem. Those relationships started early. We could see it early and we knew what the system entailed for that position as a whole. None of it surprised us too much, with how well he played. It was really a little bit disappointing in the couple games where we didn't maximize him as much as we could have. Some games like the [Week 4] Raiders game, we could have used him more.

Let's talk about that second Raiders game, Week 18. General manager Tom Telesco had said if the Chargers had won that game, Mike would have been the story.

What was it like watching him, specifically on that final drive of regulation? Not just the game-tying touchdown, but all the work that went into it to will that team back with Justin Herbert.

Beatty: Mike is so laid back – he and I are a lot alike, which I think is why we work together so easily. He deflects attention, deflects praise, but people don't realize how competitive that guy is. When it's time to show up, he's gonna show up. That's the way I felt going in and he made every play to keep us in the game. I don't know how many of those fourth downs he caught, quite a few were him, but he made catch after catch after run. The thing about it that people didn't see from [the outside] was that his shoulder [was hurting.] Every series, you'd check in, 'Are you good? You good?' He's got a ton of heart, a ton of desire to win.

One of the things that if you weren't in that locker room you wouldn't know, was after the game he was about as upset as any player I've seen. He broke down. That's something people don't see or recognize. People think [football] is about money, fame, or accolades but he was like a 12-year-old kid who struck out with the bases loaded. He was extremely [upset] after the game and that's when you know it's about competitiveness, winning, and the team. That's one of the things that's special about him that I don't think people realize.

JOSHUA PALMER

"I think he’s just tapping what he can be. But all the things I thought he had when we drafted him, he’s got that in spades."

It really felt like Joshua Palmer came on towards the back end of the year. You said you really liked his progression, but what's your assessment of his development in year one?

Beatty: I hate to sound like a broken record because I said it with Mike, but early in the season you're like, 'Okay, he's gonna be something. We need to get something going.' But then he hit a wall a little bit early in the season because it does pile up on you, there are so many plays, so much verbiage and so many things. He came out of the box a little slower than I was personally hoping.

But then you could kind of see after the first Raiders game early in the season, a light clicked on. You could see in practice he could be something because he could start playing multiple positions instead of just playing one. So you're able to move him around and do a lot of things with him.

The second half of the season, I thought he was as good as anybody we had on the field. When he played against the Giants when Keenan was out, he played in Keenan's spot and did a really nice job. Nobody's Keenan, but at the same time for that game, he did a heck of a job and caught a big choice route in the end zone for a touchdown. He just made a ton of catches. And then when you get to Week 18, we don't get to Mike's catches if Joshua didn't score on 4th-and-21. Justin Herbert is so special but that's a different story! But at the same time, Joshua's making plays and throughout the second half of the season, it just kind of showed itself. I think he's just tapping what he can be. But all the things I thought he had when we drafted him, he's got that in spades.

What is it like seeing him go through his post-practice routine? I had to grab him for an interview one day and I went out as soon as practice ended, but I think I waited 30-45 minutes for him to finish his individual work!

Beatty: It's funny because when he first started, we were like, 'Is this guy serious? He doesn't need to impress us!' He's a young guy but he has such a great work ethic and I think that's what shows why and how he learned every spot and play every position. He asks so many questions. Right when we break [from a play] he's in Keenan's ear or Mike's ear and he's talking to Justin. He has the desire to be a great player and I think he can do that.

Where can he make that leap?

Beatty: I think his route-running could be defined a little bit. I think at the end of the day, he could get a little more top end speed. He's very explosive off the ball so those are things he can continue to be a little better at. Some of his intermediate routes we could clear up a little bit. But at the end of the day, I think it's more of just the process of experience. The more he's [working] with Justin. The more he's sitting back and watching the routes on film. He can refine the experience from Monday – Saturday and get better at that.

2021 WIDEOUTS

"I think to have a pair of 1,000-yard receivers was phenomenal. Those guys took their game up a notch, I think Mike really did. I was really proud of the progression of Joshua Palmer, I think he got better as the season went along. And same with Jalen Guyton, his role expanded as the season went along as well. You could see him getting better."

Another young guy, Jalen Guyton, I think he'll always be remembered for being on the receiving end of that 59-yard touchdown against the Giants.

But how did he grow this past year and where can his game go?

Beatty: I think he was playing his best ball at the end of the season. You'll define him by that Justin throw, but I'll look at the catch in Week 18 before Mike's [touchdown] because if they don't review that, there is no Mike touchdown to send that game to overtime. Jalen got better every week. I think we got better in using him, too. There's a process cause he's different than some of the players who were in the Saints' system which was the system we incorporated.

He's a long-strider with build-up speed who scares people deep. It took us a while to say, 'Okay, here's how we can accentuate his role.' He caught a couple deep balls early in the same role, but we didn't really throw it over the top until later in the season like vs. Cincinnati or the Giants. Those things started showing up as the season went along.

Jalen's really fast and people back up when they play him so he had a lot of 20-yard catches that go unnoticed because he's running a hinge route at 14 but everyone's backed up so he runs for another five or six [yards] because they're playing off of him so much because of his speed. I think he's just tapped the surface on what he can become, too. He used to come to the office and say that until he played for the Chargers he played on the right side all the time and never played inside or multiple positions. But as the season went on, Justin started trusting him a bit more and his hands got a little bit better and a little bit more confident and his game evolved as the season went on.

The Chargers signed a few guys to Reserve-Futures contracts, Jason Moore, Michael Bandy and Maurice Ffrench. What did you see out of them working with them this past year?

Beatty: Ffrench I coached in college so I knew him from the beginning and what kind of ability he has. I think the best thing for him was the year he spent in Kansas City. Those guys run and that's what he does and he's finally getting to understand how to play fast. There's one thing to be fast, but another to play fast. He's learning that and I think he's got a lot of upside on the special teams part of it.

Michael Bandy, he's one of those glue guys. One week he's Hunter Renfrow, the next week he's someone else. He can be whoever we need him to be on scout team because he was going to give you max effort. When we called him up right before the Houston game when Mike couldn't get on the bus, he goes out and returns kicks and ends up getting 22 yards on a kick. He can do anything and he's a tireless worker too. He's another guy who goes 30 minutes after practice running routes. Really like him.

And then Jason Moore is an NFL guy who just hasn't gotten a chance. A lot of times it's just numbers. He's got great hands and a great work ethic. He's got a ton of upside and I think he's a definitely NFL-caliber receiver, he just needs the opportunity. He got in against Houston and made some plays. I'll be interested in how he blossoms here in the offseason and what kinds of things he does when we come back and get back together in April and May.

Take a look back at the best photos of Slayer's 2021 season.

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