Tyrell Williams’ role in 2017 is vastly different than his breakout 2016 campaign.
Thrust into the role as the team’s primary receiving weapon following Keenan Allen’s season ending Week 1 injury, Williams caught 69 passes for 1,590 yards and seven touchdowns.
However, with Allen’s return, the continued emergence of Hunter Henry and an arsenal of weapons at Philip Rivers’ disposal including Travis Benjamin, Mike Williams and Antonio Gates, Williams’ targets have vastly decreased.
“It was definitely tough,” Williams said about wrapping his head about the downtick in touches. “Mentally, you hit a little stretch where you just want to be more a part of it you feel like. But as long as we’re winning and we’re playing well, you can’t be too upset. Having games like (today) and going out there and help the team (win), it’s awesome.”
What we saw Sunday against the Washington Redskins was a throwback to his sensational sophomore campaign.
Williams caught all four targets thrown his way for 132 yards and a touchdown. He did all his damage in the first half, marking a new career-high for receiving yards in the first 30 minutes of play. Williams got the game started in dramatic fashion with a 34-yard catch-and-run. He also recorded his second 75-yard touchdown of the season, hauling in a deep bomb on the Chargers’ first snap after Washington got on the board.
Williams admits it has been a trying season at times, which made his performance on Sunday that much sweeter.
“I knew the first play it was going to come to me or Hunter,” he said. “But I thought it was going to come to me. Just starting the game off with a big play and getting the momentum rolling there, and then from there, it just kind of happened that way. It was awesome.”
His 75-yard TD was also particularly satisfying.
“I saw the middle of the field was going to be open so I knew I had a lot of room there,” he said. “Then Phil (launched) the ball and I had to catch it and finish it off from there. So it was awesome…. Sometimes the hardest ones are the ones when you are wide open and the ball feels like it’s in the air forever. We’re rolling right now. You can feel it with all the team. Plays like that, you know you are going to make the play.”
While the numbers may not be what they were a year ago, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a key contributor all season long. It’s the little things he’s done all year that have been pivotal to the team’s success.
Just listen to Rivers, who best summed up the impact he’s made all year long.
“Do you know how many times Tyrell has cleared out for Keenan, and how many times we’ve switched those guys to throw Keenan the ball on a certain route where it could have been Tyrell? He understands it because he knows how good of a player Keenan is, but also (thinks he) can make that play, too. There’s a balance of wanting the ball, but also, where is my role on the team. You mix in and go, 'Who do we want on this deep crossing route to start the game? Do we want Tyrell? Who do we want on the big post that we hope hits for a big touchdown? It’s Tyrell.' Those two things he hit today.”