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Cavanaugh: Tale of the Tape, wild-card edition - Connor Williams

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  • Cavanaugh: Tale of the Tape, wild-card edition - Connor Williams

    By Jeff Cavanaugh 2h ago

    Each​ week​ I study tape​ on a few Cowboys players who​ I find particularly interesting. Iíll start with this disclaimer:​​ Without being a member of the Cowboys team or coaching staff, it is impossible to say with 100% certainty what the responsibility is for a particular player on a particular play. I can feel pretty confident most of the time with the context of the things happening around them, but complete certainty just isnít possible. Iíll do the best I can to try and give you an idea of how the players performed with an educated guess as to their role on each play and then assign a letter grade at the end.

    Connor Williams Ė LG (#52)


    One thing weíre going to learn over the course of this study is that Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed (#90) is an absolute monster. Heís in his third season as a pro, and as a second-round pick, has one more year on his rookie deal before he becomes a very rich man.

    Connor Williams spent the majority of his evening facing off with either Reed or Seattleís other DT, Shamar Stephen. Stephen wasnít a problem, Reed was.



    This was the first snap Williams spent pass-protecting against Reed. It obviously ended quite poorly for both him and the second man to the party, Ezekiel Elliott. Reed showed some serious upper-body strength in getting free and moving Williams like that without even getting into his body. Connor will at times try and compensate for his (relative) lack of power and ability to anchor against some big bodies by getting too far forward with his lean, which can get him in trouble when he gets swatted or pulled.



    Williams faces Jarran Reed again here. He survives the snap, but within 2.5 seconds or so Prescott has to move and canít throw to his left because thereís a giant man stopping him from being able to step or throw the ball that way.

    Williams was able to protect against Reed on some snaps, and when the Cowboys provided help, they were able to block him up. Then there were snaps where Williams drew the long straw and got to block someone not named Jarran Reed. Those results were far more positive for the second-round rookie from Texas.





    One of the scenarios in which Williams appears very comfortable and smooth is when the defensive line employs some sort of twist game to try and free up a rusher. He has a good feel for whatís happening and situational awareness seems to come pretty easily to him. That, along with his ability to move laterally, makes him rock-solid at responding to stunts.





    Here we get a look at a stunt both from Williamsí right and from his left. The majority of the time, what youíll see is a defensive end and defensive tackle playing a game to free one up. In the first clip, you actually have two defensive tackles stunting so the man Williams is responsible for blocking comes from his right and he has no trouble picking him up. It may help some that the Seattle defender basically runs into him to try and free the other tackle heading away from him.

    The second clip features a typical stunt between a defensive end and tackle, and itís easy as can be for Williams. He sees things well and is blessed with extremely smooth lateral movement.

    There was one stunt where Dak Prescott ended up taking a sack and Iíll reinforce my opening statement that I include before each article: I canít say with 100% certainly whose Ďfaultí it is; I can just offer the best guess I have without being in the offensive line meeting room.



    I believe this is the responsibility of Tyron Smith. Ideally, youíd be able to switch on this but with Williams having to initially block Jarran Reed, and being at a different depth than Tyron Smith, thereís no way that Tyron can be there to pick up Reed and therefore no way that Williams can let Reed go to go block Frank Clark. They were on different pages in the way theyíd like to be spaced, and it would have been impossible for Williams to slide inside and block Clark without allowing Reed a free shot at his quarterback.

    As a pass protector, Williams has room for growth when it comes to handling power. Thatís been a consistent theme this season, and itís something at which he will need to gradually improve. An entire offseason of focusing on lower-body and core strength can help to address it.

    Letís move on to run blocking. One of the things that I (and others) mentioned when Xavier Suía-Filo first started a game was that he was a stouter lineman, capable of playing with a little more power and a stronger base than Williams. That is true, but itís also not the only thing that matters when run-blocking for the Cowboys. Theyíll ask one of three things from their guards on most run plays. Letís look at an example of each.

    1: Inside Zone



    On inside zone plays where Williams is on the back side, he and the left tackle are both asked to just wall their defender to the outside and let the combo blocks on the opposite side work to create a hole for Ezekiel Elliott. Williams consistently does this well.

    2: Outside Zone



    On outside zone, the guard is asked to make sure that the man next to him is able to secure his block on the defensive lineman, then move to the second level and block a linebacker. The idea is to have every lineman flowing in the same direction and let Zeke find a hole. Williams is generally very good at this.

    3: Pull



    On this counter play, Williams pulls from left to right and in open space, is going to get enough of a block on Bobby Wagner to take him out of the play. This is another strength of his.

    If one of the best defensive tackles in football lines up across from Connor Williams, he is going to be at a power disadvantage. But with all the Cowboys ask their guards to do, power is not at the very top of the list of required traits. He may require some help as a pass-protector against Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh this weekend the way he occasionally did against Jarran Reed. But weíve moved past the point of a discussion about Connor Williams vs. Xavier Suía-Filo in my eyes. Williams is fine, heís improving, and his skill set fits most of what the Cowboys want from an offensive guard. They canít all be Zack Martin.

    Grade: C+
    2016 DCC LOTY Fantasy Football Champion

  • #2
    good piece showing his different skillsets and where he has to improve.
    defense wins championships

    Comment


    • #3
      He's very good in space but struggles anchoring at the POA, that's pretty much been the book on the guy since his first snap. He's improved a bit it seems with his technique and balance so that he isn't getting dumptrucked by JAG's anymore but I still worry about him against a combo like Suh/Donald.

      I'm mostly bullish on his long term prospects but as far as a game 5 days from now, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference to me whether it's him or XSF out there as they're both liabilities in their own way.

      But again, we got by with both Williams and XSF at OG against the Eagles and their DL of Cox/Graham/Bennett/Long, so we should be able to get by against one superstar in Donald, a declining former star in Suh and a bunch of JAG's on the edge with Williams/Martin.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Iamtdg View Post
        This was NOT on Williams... this was gonna end badly from the start.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by P_T View Post

          This was NOT on Williams... this was gonna end badly from the start.
          it was just a great stunt. Hard to beat.
          defense wins championships

          Comment


          • #6
            I think most of us have been satisfied with his development for a rook and that he needs to add some bulk and get stronger without losing his mobility. I don't think he'll be another Zack Martin but he could be a serviceable piece to the puzzle for quite awhile.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by DLK150 View Post
              I think most of us have been satisfied with his development for a rook and that he needs to add some bulk and get stronger without losing his mobility. I don't think he'll be another Zack Martin but he could be a serviceable piece to the puzzle for quite awhile.
              shit, if he could be Ron Leary I'd be happy.
              defense wins championships

              Comment


              • #8
                I think Williams is going to be a very good guard starting by next year. Zach Martin? Of course not, who is? But very good.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I would start XSF against those Ram DTs.
                  I was on the draft LVE train. I was for trading for Amari before it happened.
                  'nuff said

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lostxn View Post
                    I would start XSF against those Ram DTs.
                    Really?
                    defense wins championships

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by p1_ View Post

                      Really?
                      It's a size thing. Williams is gonna get slapped around by those behemoths.
                      I was on the draft LVE train. I was for trading for Amari before it happened.
                      'nuff said

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by lostxn View Post

                        It's a size thing. Williams is gonna get slapped around by those behemoths.
                        Donald beats people with speed. He is undersized. Although amazingly powerful for his size.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cowboysrock55 View Post

                          Donald beats people with speed. He is undersized. Although amazingly powerful for his size.
                          You think he can stand up to Suh?
                          I was on the draft LVE train. I was for trading for Amari before it happened.
                          'nuff said

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lostxn View Post

                            You think he can stand up to Suh?
                            I think Suh is a shell of his former self. Dude had 1.5 sacks the entire second half of the season.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cowboysrock55 View Post

                              I think Suh is a shell of his former self. Dude had 1.5 sacks the entire second half of the season.
                              yeah, I think he's done terrorizing people. But probably still good for a cheap shot or two. Look for him to twist Zeke's foot or something.
                              defense wins championships

                              Comment

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