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An unlikely duo powered Robert Saleh’s defense in Houston

Robert Saleh, New York Jets, NFL, Quincy Williams, C.J. Mosley
Robert Saleh, New York Jets, Getty Images

Quincy Williams and C.J. Mosley are forming a dynamic duo

The New York Jets‘ initial linebacker plan entering the 2021 season was to feature the newly-signed Jarrad Davis alongside the returning C.J. Mosley. With the linebacker position possessing such a high level of importance in the team’s 4-3 defense, the Jets wanted another experienced starter to play alongside Mosley while their younger ‘backers sat back and developed.

New York hoped its two linebackers could explode for big seasons under the tutelage of linebacker gurus Jeff Ulbrich and Robert Saleh, who have each developed many solid linebackers in the past.

As we enter December, Mosley is out there shining as planned, as his partner in crime.

But that partner in crime is not the veteran Davis.

Rather, it is a player who is exactly the type of guy that the Jets didn’t want beside Mosley in this linebacker-emphasizing defense: an inexperienced, volatile youngster.

Quincy Williams was a failed third-round pick in Jacksonville who could not make it out of his third preseason with the team. With injuries piling up at linebacker, the Jets brought him into the building one day after the Jaguars released him on Aug. 31 of this year.

Williams has gotten a ton of action with the Jets from Week 2 onward due to Davis’ absence and the loss of various other linebackers on the roster. He started his first five appearances from Weeks 2-7.

There have been ups and downs for Williams, as his peaks have been high and his valleys low, but he is starting to forge some consistency and flash the potential that he may be capable of becoming a long-term stud.

Davis returned in Week 8 and started his first three games after returning, but struggled mightily. Williams took on a much smaller role during that time.

The Jets benched the struggling Davis in favor of Williams in Week 11. Since then, Williams has looked more sound than he did earlier in the year.

Taking on the Texans in his second consecutive start after rejoining Mosley with the first-string unit, Williams and the multi-time Pro Bowler joined forces for a spectacular performance – showcasing just how good this duo can be when everything clicks.

The primary appeal of Williams and Mosley’s performance as a duo in Houston was what they didn’t do more so than what they did. Both players certainly made some great plays themselves, but most importantly, they did not allow their opponents to do much of anything.

Williams and Mosley gave Houston absolutely nothing through the air. The duo combined to allow three catches on six targets for 16 yards, yielding zero touchdowns and zero first downs. Williams executed his responsibilities efficiently, dropping into coverage on 17 plays and allowing only one target in his direction (which fell incomplete).

The pair’s fundamental soundness in coverage was matched by its finishing efficiency when roaming around the field. Williams and Mosley combined for 15 tackles while missing just one (that one being missed by Mosley). Williams had his share of highlight moments, collecting seven tackles and zero missed tackles while racking up three run stuffs and an eye-popping sack of Tyrod Taylor.

Williams is beginning to show signs of improving his consistency to the level that is necessary for him to fulfill his potential and become a true difference-maker.

Over his two starts since returning to the starting lineup, Williams has made 22 tackles while missing just one. That is a phenomenal miss rate of only 4.3%, which is a big improvement over where he was earlier in the season. Williams had 32 tackles and six missed tackles over his first five games – a miss rate of 15.8%.

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The value of a player’s propensity for highlight-reel plays can be wiped out if he makes too many costly mistakes. That is where Williams was earlier in the season. Now, the mistakes are going down while the splashiness is remaining at the same level. That is a formula for greatness.

Williams is under contract for the 2022 season at a cap hit of only $965,000. If he continues to sharpen his reliability while maintaining his high-level playmaking, he will be a bargain at that price next year – and could earn himself a much more lucrative long-term deal with the team.

It would be a massive coup if the Jets could come out of the 2021 season with Williams having secured the starting linebacker spot next to Mosley in 2022. Just the fact that we are having this conversation is proof that Williams has already soared well beyond the expectations that anybody had for him when he was brought in.

Success stories like Williams’ are what can make a supposedly “lost” season a truly worthwhile one in the long run.

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