Image Credit: 80 Sucks

What is it about Tampa Bay that kills a receivers career? In 2004 rookie WR Michael Clayton burst onto the scene with a 80 catch, 1,193 yard, seven TD campaign. It was the best season for a Tampa rookie in franchise history. He looked great, especially considering he had three different QB’s throwing him the ball that year and didn’t start the first three games of the season. Hopes were high. He was the next can’t miss young WR.   

Then a strange thing happened- he was never productive again. And fans started to hate him (check it out.) He didn’t even score a TD in 2005 and it would take him the next three and a half seasons to cumulatively eclipse his yardage total from his rookie year, only scoring three TD’s in the next six seasons. Now, after a stint last year with Omaha in the UFL, he is barely surviving as a reserve for the Giants.

Is Mike Williams headed down the same unproductive, weird path? Through the season’s first three games Williams has only totaled 10 catches for 89 yards and a TD, making Monday night’s matchup versus the Colts a make or break scenario for starting him from here on out. At this point last year, Williams had totaled 12 receptions, 139 yards and two TD’s. Week four was his breakout game with 7 catches, 99 yards and a TD vs the Bengals.

One stat that favors Williams owners is that his 22 total targets by Bucs QB Josh Freeman is tied for the team lead, meaning his lack of production may just be the extension of a struggling TB offense. The Colts are 18th in pass defense, giving up 251 ypg, so Williams should get his chances to produce.

Consider MNF a critical game in determining what you can expect from Mike Williams for the rest of the season- or the Michael Clayton comparisons will only increase.