Friday, 31 August 2012

Chris Williams vs. Chad Owens

When watching the Edmonton-Toronto game, I took to Twitter to vent my frustration at commentators drooling over Chad Owens and his combined yardage. They made a big deal out of his back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons, the first player to ever accomplish that feat, and I posted my belief that the record was essentially meaningless because more than half of his yards last year (1,750 to be exact) came on kickoff returns. The only way a team can accumulate that many kickoff yards is if the other team is kicking off a lot, and if the other team is kicking off a lot that means that the Argos gave up a lot of scores. I'm not saying that what Owens did wasn't noteworthy, but it is not as impressive as some make it out to be.

Well, my opinion brought about a response that the Ti-Cats would love to have Chad Owens on their team. This is pretty laughable considering the Tabbies have Chris Williams and are doing just fine in the return category. This led me to wonder how each player stacks up to the other. With the Labour Day Classic happening in just a couple of days, what better time than now to stack up these two receiver/returners.

When it comes to offense, it is undeniable that Williams is the better player and more dangerous weapon. Owens has improved at receiver over his first two seasons in the league, but he is not as good a receiver as Williams. Williams already has a 1,000-yard season under his belt and he will get another one this season. Owens is on pace for his first 1,000-yard season this year, but his receiving numbers were pedestrian in his first two seasons. Williams is also more of a scoring threat at receiver, where he has already picked up 11 receiving touchdowns in just 23 games. Owens has scored just six touchdowns in 42 games and went 20 games between touchdown catches. Williams is the far superior player offensively.

But let's be honest, special teams is where these two will probably always be judged. Despite my belief that his 3,000 yard seasons aren't all that impressive, I do think Owens is a very good returner. He can make tacklers miss and has excellent speed. But let's not act like he can hold a candle to Williams in those areas. Williams is obviously faster than Owens (and might be the fastest player in the league) and his shiftiness is the stuff you write home about. Owens gets the majority of his return yardage on kickoffs (3,689 of his 6,532 yards) which is an area of special teams that Williams doesn't play. So you can't just compare raw yardage and say that one is better than the other. While Owens is undoubtedly a great returner, he is not as explosive or as dangerous as Chris Williams.

In the awards category, Owens has a slight lead. Both players have won two Player of the Month awards for their work on special teams, but Owens has won six Player of the Week awards to Williams' three and Owens was also the 2010 Most Outstanding Special Teams Player award winner. But Owens has done that over three seasons, while Williams has won his awards in just eight games. Williams didn't play a lot of special teams last year and was only used as the team's primary punt returner this year. Prior to that, Marcus Thigpen handled all the special teams return duties with Williams seeing some spot duty (he had 24 returns on both punts and kickoffs all last year compared to 137 for Owens).

So there you have it, a very unscientific examination of who is better between Chad Owens and Chris Williams. While I am sure a lot of teams would like to have Owens as their returner, one of those teams is most definitely not the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. With Chris Williams in the running for the Most Outstanding Player award, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are doing just fine in the return game and do not need, nor want, Chad Owens.

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