Alan Dell

Tampa Bay Buccaneers commentary | Mike Williams says the secret to his increased production is Vincent Jackson

Mike Williams says you don't need charts, psychiatrists or motivational coaches to understand his increased production at wide receiver.

All you have to do is look across the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room and see Vincent Jackson.

"Having that guy on the field has changed a lot of things for a lot of people," Williams says. "He has helped me off the field, in the film room and teaching me what to do after practice and things like that."

On the surface, the best thing Jackson has done for a guy he calls little brother is create space. Williams rarely has to deal with double teams anymore.

To Williams, that's like seeing a pot of gold. He tells Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman to throw him a few nuggets.

"It feels (like) touchdown when I get single coverage," Williams says. "I tell Josh if they double the other side and press me one on one, forget what you've got. I am not going to let you down. I will win that battle every time. It's been a big difference this year, a lot of single coverages, no two-highs, no running into the zones."

The numbers bear him out, and they dwarf his career stats and what he did last year. They are similar to the 6-foot-5, 241-pound Jackson, considered among the elite receivers in the NFL.

The 6-1, 212-pound Williams has caught 11 passes for 219 yards and two TDs and is fifth in the league, averaging 19.9 yards per catch. Jackson has 16 receptions for 304 yards (19.0 average, 10th) and two TDs.

But Freeman has thrown to Jackson 34 times compared to 21 to Williams, who averaged 11.9 yards per catch last year and 14.8 for his career.

Bucs head coach Greg Schiano says that was the plan when the team

shelled out big bucks to pry Jackson loose from San Diego. But he says Williams deserves credit.

"When I first got here, Mike was a little bit resistant, but quickly came on board and has just gone like that and is playing at a high level," Schiano says. "You're playing a position for a long time and a new crew comes in and says you are going to do it this way. It's not easy, but Mike quickly bought in and has had tremendous results. He just is going to be a big weapon for us."

The rap on Williams last year was that he was petulant, lost focus and became disinterested while his work ethic took a tumble. It brought back memories of his troubles at Syracuse, where he was booted off the team.

Few doubt Williams' talent. His attitude raised caution flags. But he says the whole atmosphere of a franchise disintegrating before his eyes last season took its toll on him.

"Not to make excuses, but we got on a losing streak that played a part in people's heads," he says. "You start hearing questions in the locker room like who is going to be fired and people walking around with their heads down; all of that plays a part, and we just didn't execute to the best of our ability."

Williams is his own worst critique, which added to his doldrums. Even now, with his production up, he is a harsh self-critic, though he has never stopped believing in himself.

"I will say the same thing. I am playing terrible," Williams says. "We are 1-3. What have we done to change our record? Nothing. That is the honest truth. I still say we have to play better to get our record up. But my confidence has always been up. It's just when you are losing it seems as if everything is going down the drain."

Though the record isn't much different from last year, Williams says the Bucs are different. Each of the losses has been by less than a touchdown against three good NFC East teams.

"We've learned that we can play with anybody. We've just got to start fast and finish fast," Williams says. "We've got to put that together, and that will take care of what happens in between and we can make a run."

The struggling Bucs will take on the struggling Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. The Chiefs' game plan is simple, run Jamaal Charles, eat up the clock and keep Tampa Bay's offense off the field.

"If we score big early, it might force them to pass, but if we have to run I am OK with that. As a receiver I want the ball, but you've got (LeGarrette) Blount and (Doug) Martin, and if they're having a good game let's keep it going. It's a run-first offense. I am going to try and block to the best of my ability and then when they think run, we play-action six. That's how I always think about it."

The Chiefs are allowing 125 passing yards per game to wide receivers, so there might be some opportunities for Williams on Sunday.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.