Jameson Williams had been mostly out of sight and out of mind since the Detroit Lions drafted him. The only time his name popped up was for a suspension after he violated the NFL's gambling policy.
It's not like he'd done much in a positive way to be on the radar. He was worked back slowly last season as he recovered from a knee injury suffered in his final college game at Alabama. He had one catch as a rookie, though it was for a touchdown. Then he had the suspension.
There's still plenty of time for Williams to make a huge impact on the Lions, and it showed Sunday. Williams didn't do anything in the first half, but his 45-yard touchdown was a big turning point in a 20-6 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Williams finished with two catches, but that's all the Lions needed from him. If he can stretch the field and make a play or two every game, it can elevate an offense that was already good without him.
Jameson Williams makes a big play
Williams was the 12th pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, and it was mostly because of his big-play ability. The Lions have a lot on offense but don't really have a field-stretching receiver.
There was always the hope that Williams could come back and fit that need. His suspension was reduced from six games to four, or he wouldn't have been playing Sunday against the Buccaneers.
The Lions were leading 10-6 late in the third quarter when Williams made a big play. He got behind the defense on a third-and-10, Jared Goff threw deep, and Williams made a nice adjustment to the ball in the air to pull in the touchdown.
— NFL (@NFL) October 15, 2023
After Williams' score, the game was never close again. Detroit's defense did a fine job limiting Tampa Bay's offense, and the Lions cruised to a 14-point win.
The Lions' offense has been good even without Williams. On Sunday, the group extended a franchise record by scoring 20 points in its 15th straight game. Most of those games were without Williams. And now the Lions get the bonus of adding a first-round talent at receiver for the rest of the season.
Lions off to a 5-1 start
The Lions are off to a good start this season, but there's still skepticism when it comes to their being Super Bowl contenders. That's due to their history, which includes winning one playoff game since 1957 and zero division titles since 1993.
There's no real reason to doubt them. The defense is much improved. The offense is getting a lot from running back David Montgomery, though he left Sunday's game due to a rib injury, and top receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. Rookie Sam LaPorta has immediately become one of the top tight ends in the NFL. Goff has done a very good job playing efficient football and getting the ball to his top playmakers. He had 353 passing yards on Sunday.
Theoretically, the Lions don't need Williams. But they also didn't have anyone else like him, and if defenses have to account for him, it can open things up underneath for St. Brown and LaPorta. He can be a big difference in the Lions' being good enough to win the NFC North and maybe a playoff game or being legitimate contenders come January.
Sunday was a pretty good performance from the Lions. They have plenty of wins in their future, too.