It wasn't too long ago that cornerback Tramon Williams was considered elite at his position. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2010 after posting six interceptions for one of the best defenses in the league.
Unfortunately, that isn't the same Tramon Williams that was on the field Sunday in the Green Bay Packers' loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, or the rest of the season for that matter. It's been a slow decline for the once-stellar cornerback over the past two years that no one saw coming.
So, what in the world has happened to Williams?
Where Williams used to excel was in man-to-man press coverage. However, he's been a huge liability this year when asked to press his man.
In the picture below, Williams is lined up across from Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Williams is in press coverage against Jackson.
However, Williams fails to push Jackson off his route after the snap and is quickly beat down the field by the speedier Jackson. As you can see in the picture below, Williams is already a few steps behind Jackson when the ball is in the air.
While Williams did get his hands on the ball, that was only due to an underthrow from quarterback Nick Foles. Had Foles thrown this ball perfectly, Williams wouldn't have been anywhere near the football and Jackson would have been able to walk into the end zone.
With Williams struggling with his pass coverage, opposing teams have been able to exploit him. Over the past two weeks, he's given up nine receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Even worse is the fact that opposing quarterbacks have a 135.4 quarterback rating when throwing his direction in those games, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Until Williams can get back to being an elite cornerback in coverage, the Packers will continue to suffer on defense.
One aspect of Williams' game that was always underrated was his ability in run defense. He was never a liability against the run and was one of the more physical cornerbacks in terms of tackling.
This area of his game has also declined during the 2013 season. In the picture below, Williams is going to come on a cornerback blitz.
The Eagles give the ball to running back LeSean McCoy. As you can see in the picture below, McCoy is going to make a cutback right to where Williams should be.
Williams is in perfect position to make a play on the running back and stop the play for little to no gain. Unfortunately, Williams fails to make the play and is forced to play catch up from behind.
This results in a big gain from McCoy on a play that should have been stopped. While Williams is credited with the tackle, it's a tackle that should have been made much sooner.
From the 2010 season to the 2011 season, Williams had a total of 10 interceptions. He had great ball skills to go along with fantastic hands.
However, Williams only recorded two interceptions last year and has failed to get one this year. As you can see in the picture below, Williams is in perfect position to make an interception on this poor throw from Foles, but simply can't come up with the play.
Now, there are plenty of top cornerbacks who don't post huge interception numbers. However, those cornerbacks still have playmaking abilities when the ball does come their way.
Williams has seemed to have lost that ability, and it's showing this year.
What grade would you give Williams on the season?
When you combine Williams' struggles in coverage, against the run and his lack of creating turnovers, you get nothing more than a mediocre cornerback.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly what has caused the decline in Williams'play, but there is no doubting that he is far from the player he was just a few years ago.
While the entire secondary in Green Bay has been rather awful this year, the biggest problem lies with the overall play of Williams. He was expected to be the leader of the secondary heading into the season, especially with Charles Woodson leaving via free agency.
However, that hasn't happened and the secondary remains the weakest link for the entire Packers team. It will remain that way until the play of Williams improves drastically.