Michael Vick will most likely run away with the Comeback Player of the Year award, but Seahawks wide receiver Mike Williams deserves close consideration for second place.
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Originally selected 10th overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2005 NFL Draft, Williams quickly came to embody the term "bust" after failed stints in Detroit, Oakland and Tennessee. The former USC star was out of football in 2008 and 2009, but was given another chance last April by his former college coach, Pete Carroll.
Williams seized his opportunity in Seattle by leading the team with 65 receptions and 751 receiving yards this season, and was recently rewarded by the Seahawks with a three-year contract extension.
What Williams lacks in speed and precise route-running ability, he makes up for with size and reliable hands. At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, he presents matchup nightmares for smaller defenders. When facing single coverage by a corner with no safety help over top, the sure-handed Williams is nearly indefensible on fade routes.
Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates compensates for his "X" receiver's lack of speed by utilizing a variety of crossing routes. Sometimes this involves a rub route, which features other players essentially setting picks that provide Williams with the separation that enables him to get open.
Bates will need to come up with plenty of schemes in the Seahawks' first playoff game since 2007, when the defending champion Saints travel to Seattle. In their Week 11 matchup, the Seahawks racked up 366 passing yards; the most allowed all season by a Saints defense that ranked fourth in the NFL in 2010.
Despite its success through the air, Seattle struggled finding the end zone in the 34-19 loss, losing two fumbles and settling for field goals on four drives. Perhaps Bates will dial up some fade routes for Williams, who will be lining up against 5-foot-11 cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter.