An undrafted free agent out of UCLA in 2007, Matthew Willis came to the Denver Broncos after an unimpressive rookie year with the Baltimore Ravens. On December 23, 2008 Willis was signed to the Broncos practice squad. In 2009 he would see the field in only one game. 2010 was again a rough one for Willis (as it was for all of us Broncos fans) wherein Willis appeared in only six games amassing only 1 reception for 17 total yards.
Willis' 2011 season was something else entirely. Willis played in fifteen games and caught the ball 18 times for 267 yards and a touchdown with two fumbles. Though his stats are slight, it's helpful to remember that under the Tebow-led offense that the Broncos didn't pass all that often. What is telling is that he averaged 14.8 yards per catch and I remember him most the 2011 season as reliable receiver who regularly moved the chains when it was needed most.
|Receiving||Kickoff Returns||Punt Returns|
Against Miami on October 23rd, Matthew Willis had one catch. Though as catches go, it was a doozy. With under five minutes to go in the 4th quarter caught a short pass from Tim Tebow and turned it into a 41-yard monster gain that helped set up a necessary touchdown reception by Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos would go on to win 18-15 in overtime thanks to great defensive play by DJ Williams and a Matt Prater fieldgoal.
Then against the Chicago Bears on December 11th with exactly :30 seconds left in the ballgame, Willis again caught a short pass and turned it into a 19-yard gain - putting Matt Prater in position to make the game tying 59-yard fieldgoal.The Broncos would go on to win 13-10 in overtime. Willis would finish the game with 4 catches for 75-yards, his best showing of during the 2011 season.
Willis was playing on a one year extension in 2011 and made $480,000. In 2012 he would stand to make $700,000 should the Broncos choose to bring him back.
I think that the Broncos will bring Willis back. I wouldn't go so far as to say that he's clutch, but he did make plays when they were needed most. His production as a receiver has steadily increased in each season of his career. He seems to have earned the trust of Tim Tebow and as Tebow's develpoment progresses so shall Matthew Willis'. I would be surprised and a little upset if Willis doesn't return.