Jay Cutler: Roy Williams learning
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler attributed the slow progress of Roy Williams to the fact that the receiver is still trying to understand some of the nuances of the team's system.
The drops? What happened? Who had a drop? I had a drop? I didn't have a drop, but if you want to count it, you can.” -- Roy Williams
Despite Williams' vast experience in the offense from working with offensive coordinator Mike Martz in Detroit, Cutler explained that the system is run somewhat differently in Chicago. He expects Williams to be "right where we need him" once the regular season opens on Sept. 11 at Soldier Field.
Williams agreed, saying, "everybody wants us to click right now, but it's going to take a little time."
"He's figuring stuff out. Missing those days of training camp kind of hurt him, set him back a little bit," Cutler said. "But you can just tell he's thinking. We do things a little bit different from Detroit, and obviously Dallas. There are just little nuances in our offense and little details you can see [that] he's still processing and thinking through."
Williams said the current Bears playbook features about eight or nine plays unfamiliar to him from the receiver's days with Martz in Detroit, which he said was natural "because offensive coordinators evolve." The terminology remains the same, Williams said, adding that Chicago's offense is nearly identical to what the Cowboys do, "but this system is a lot more detailed."
Cutler targeted Williams twice early in the team's loss to the New York Giants. But the receiver failed to come up with a catch.
Williams dismissed the assertion that he dropped passes against the Giants. Williams initially appeared to catch the first pass, but the play was ruled an incompletion after a review.
"The drops? What happened? Who had a drop? I had a drop?" Williams asked. "I didn't have a drop, but if you want to count it, you can. I think the DB made a great play to knock it out as soon as it got into my hands. So I didn't drop the ball. But if you want to call it a drop, go ahead. You said I had another one, too?"
Actually, the second missed connection wasn't a drop, rather a high-velocity throw by Cutler that sailed between Williams' hands on a slant route.
"Yeah, I've got to catch that ball, man," Williams said. "My fault; I'll catch it next time coach."
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Williams has dropped more passes over the last three years than any other receiver targeted on at least 200 occasions. Williams has dropped 19 of the 232 balls thrown his way since 2008, but that doesn't appear to be a concern for the club just yet. The team just wants Williams to become better acclimated with the system as the regular season opens.
Cutler said Williams seems to be tracking in that direction.
"Once he gets everything hammered home, I think this week's gonna be a good stepping stone for him with us really going through an actual game week and getting all the details to him, and exactly what we want to do out there on Saturday," Cutler said.
Williams replaced Johnny Knox -- the team's leading receiver in 2010 -- in the starting lineup, but Cutler envisions both playing integral roles in the offense.
Cutler said he spoke with Knox, who expressed disappointment in the demotion initially, and indicated the receiver is confident in his standing on the roster. One component of Knox's diminished reps is the team's need to evaluate several other players at receiver, Cutler said.
"We know what Johnny can do out there. He's gonna be a guy that's gonna come in there and provide valuable minutes, and make big catches for us," Cutler said. "So I don't think anyone in this building is really concerned about Johnny and his ability to play in this offense, or his ability to play on Sundays."
There's still "a little way to go" in terms of development among all the receivers, Cutler said.
As for Williams, Cutler said he and the receiver just need more time together before the two start making significant connections in the passing game.
"He's got a great understanding for this offense and what Mike [Martz is] trying to accomplish. He's a big guy. He's physical. He uses that as one of his strengths," Cutler said. "So it's just gonna be a matter of time with him of getting more reps, getting comfortable with us, and me getting comfortable with him, and where the spots he's gonna be [are]. I see nothing wrong with Roy and where he's at right now."
Martz isn't concerned about Williams at this point.
"You can't press him immediately, otherwise he'll get injured, so it's a bit of a process," Martz said. "He's not where needs to be yet, but none of them really are. We've got another week or two yet before we get to where they need to be conditioning-wise."
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Cutler insisted that the team's expectations for Williams aren't set too high.
"I don't think we expect Roy to be the greatest receiver ever," Cutler said. "He's going to come in here, he's going to fill a role. He's going to catch balls. Roy is going to have to understand that. He can't do too much. [In] this offense you don't know where the ball is going to go from week to week. He might have 10 catches one week. He might have two or none the next week; just depends on the defense. I think Roy's been in the league long enough to understand that."
Williams, meanwhile, wants the focus taken off him and placed onto the entire offense, adding that fans haven't yet seen his best in a Bears uniform.
"I haven't even caught a ball yet, but it's coming," Williams said. "Once it happens, the fireworks will go off and this offense will be off and running. It's just about making plays. He's going to make the throw. I've got to make the grab. That's what I get paid to do, try to catch everything in my radius. We'll see what happens."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.