Quinnen Williams, Sacks, PFF Grade, Contract, NY Jets
Quinnen Williams, New York Jets, Getty Images

Quinnen Williams’ Year 3 breakout is on the right track

Quinnen Williams was a decent starter in his rookie season and developed into a very good one in his second year. Heading into year three, the goal for 2019’s third overall pick was to establish himself as one of the game’s unquestionably elite defensive tackles.

So far, so good.

Despite the New York Jets‘ disappointing start on the defensive side of the ball – they have allowed the fourth-most points per game in the NFL through Week 7 (29.2) – Williams is making the leap that fans hoped he would.

Williams boasts elite pass-rushing production in various categories.

Quinnen Williams’ pass-rushing

For starters, Williams already has 3.5 sacks in six games. That is an average of 0.58 sacks per game, ranking fourth among defensive tackles behind only Javon Hargrave (0.86), Jonathan Allen (0.71), and former teammate Leonard Williams (0.64).

Williams has eight quarterback hits, an average of 1.33 per game. He ranks fifth in the category at his position, trailing Jonathan Allen (2.43), Javon Hargrave (1.43), J.J. Watt (1.43), and Aaron Donald (1.43).

When it comes to creating pressure on a per-play basis, Williams has been stellar. Williams has racked up 20 pressures (11th-most) over 158 pass-rush snaps (38th-most). That gives him a pressure rate of 12.7%, which trails only Solomon Thomas (12.9%) among all qualified interior defensive linemen. It is a big step forward from his already strong 2020 rate (10.3%).

Altogether, Williams ranks seventh at his position with 3.3 pressures per game.

Of Williams’ 20 pressures, 19 were collected when he was lined up on the right side of the defensive line, which is where he aligns on the vast majority of his snaps. Williams’ average of 3.2 pressures per game from the right side trails only Jonathan Allen (3.6) among defensive tackles (perennial Pro Bowler Cameron Heyward is tied with Williams).

Quinnen Williams’ run defense

While Williams has been a top-five pass rusher at the defensive tackle position thus far, his run defense has taken a bit of a step back from the elite-level talent he displayed in this facet last season.

In 2020, Williams led defensive tackles with 2.2 run stops per game, collecting 28 in 13 games.

So far in 2021, Williams has only eight run stops in six games for an average of 1.3 per game. That ranks 30th among qualifiers.

Williams’ decline in this phase – as well as his improvement in the passing game – could certainly be attributed to the Jets’ scheme change. The move to an aggressive 4-3 front has allowed Williams to explode in the passing game, but the price of that is taking away chances for Williams to make plays in the run game.

Under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Quinnen would consistently be asked to “two-gap,” focusing first on holding his ground so he could read a potential run play and defend either gap beside him.

Now, Quinnen is more frequently being asked to “one-gap,” where his primary focus is shooting through a particular gap to create penetration. This allows him to pick up more pressures but makes it more difficult for him to get tackles in the run game.

Despite his dip against the run, the Jets and their fans should be ecstatic about where Williams stands on the league-wide leaderboard when it comes to pass-rushing at the defensive tackle position.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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