Quinnen Williams, NY Jets, Stats, PFF, Snaps, Trade
Quinnen Williams, New York Jets, Getty Images

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The New York Jets are holding Quinnen Williams back

As much as things change, they stay the same.

The New York Jets‘ coaching staff is mismanaging one of its best players for the second consecutive season. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is yet again being limited to a snap count that is criminally low for a player of his caliber.

Williams currently owns an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 82.7, which is the best mark of any player on the team (offense or defense) and ranks eighth-best out of 105 qualified NFL defensive tackles this season (93rd percentile). Williams’s film verifies the grade, as he has been dominating his reps on a frequent basis.

Despite Williams’s excellent performance, he only ranks 36th among DTs with 120 defensive snaps this season. Just six of the other 31 teams have given fewer snaps to their most-used DT.

Take a look at how Williams’s playing time compares to some of the other top-tier defensive tackles in the NFL:

  • Williams: 40.0 snaps per game / 63% snap ratio
  • Jeffery Simmons (TEN): 54.0 / 81%
  • DeForest Buckner (IND): 53.0 / 78%
  • Jonathan Allen (WAS): 52.3 / 78%
  • Chris Jones (KC): 51.7 / 74%
  • Grady Jarrett (ATL): 51.3 / 79%

The Jets’ best player is spending way too much time on the sidelines.

We were having this same exact conversation one year ago. Williams finished his 2021 season with a nearly identical average of 40.9 snaps per game.

As Jets X-Factor’s Stefan Stelling pointed out, Williams’s significant lack of playing time in comparison to his fellow stars is holding him back from accruing phenomenal production totals. For instance, in the 2021 season, if Williams maintained the same level of per-snap efficiency while playing around the same number of snaps per game as his peers, he’d jump to top-15 in pressures, top-6 in sacks, and first in run stops.

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Based on the snap counts of his similarly-talented peers, Williams should be playing at least 12 more snaps per game than he currently is.

Considering that the league-average NFL drive lasts 6.0 plays, that’s essentially two whole drives per game in which Williams is on the bench while other teams have their equivalent of Williams on the field.

Taking Williams off the field for two extra drives might be justified if the Jets were relieving Williams with a backup who played at a highly efficient level in his limited role. But they have the polar opposite of that.

When Williams is on the sideline, Nathan Shepherd is the guy who takes his place. For instance, against the Bengals, Williams played 46 of the 68 snaps (68%) while Shepherd played 22 of the 68 snaps (32%). They were never on the field together.

Shepherd is doing nothing to warrant stealing reps from Williams.

Over 66 snaps this year, Shepherd has zero sacks, zero quarterback hits, one hurry, zero run stops, and one missed tackle. Shepherd has gone 21 consecutive games without a sack despite playing 42% of the snaps over that span, and he has six penalties over that stretch.

What are we doing here?

New York can become a significantly more talented team just by boosting Williams’s playing time to match other players around the league who are similarly productive. Imagine how much better the Jets defense would look if they substituted two drives with Nathan Shepherd on the field for two drives with Quinnen Williams on the field.

Over the course of the season, the Jets’ current snap distribution at DT will essentially have the same effect as if Williams missed approximately four games due to injury.

Allow me to explain.

Williams is on pace to play 680 snaps this year (40.0 per game). Indy’s DeForest Buckner, for example, is on pace for 901 (53.0 per game). That’s a difference of 221 snaps, or the equivalent of slightly more than four whole games for Buckner based on his current average of snaps per game.

So, the Jets are basically on track to hold Williams out of four whole games so they can replace him with Nathan Shepherd.

Let that sink in.

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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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5 months ago

brilliant idea… takes reps from your best players and replace them with substandard players. I said this idea stinks last season, but here we are again

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
5 months ago

I’m fast losing confidence in Saleh. Sometimes I have no idea what he’s thinking and at other times, as the Quinnenn Williams issue shows, he seems to be coaching football as if he’s managing a 162 game baseball season.
Urgency should be the name of the game and take receipts when you’ve accomplished something.
Saleh needs to grow in a hurry. There is too much talent on this team for the way they’re playing.

5 months ago

I agree completely but need a to take it step further with other players. Lawson should be seeing more snaps to shake the rust and move JFM inside on passing downs instead to give JJ Martin or Clemons outside reps. Play your best players. I don’t care how rested they are if we are down 10+ in the fourth.

They will also be well rested if they get off the field instead of giving up long drives. And you do that by playing your starters.