Jeff Ulbrich, NY Jets, DC, Defensive Coordinator
Jeff Ulbrich, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich explains why Quinnen Williams is not playing more snaps

With the New York Jets defense currently ranked 32nd in DVOA for the second consecutive season, the team’s defensive scheme and strategies are currently taking immense criticism from the fanbase.

One of the most commonly critiqued aspects of the Jets’ defensive strategy has been their management of Quinnen Williams‘s snap count.

Despite his excellent start to the season, the Jets’ star defensive tackle is ranked only 36th at his position with 120 snaps this season. His average of 40.0 snaps per game is about 12-15 snaps lower than most of the other star defensive tackles around the NFL. Williams has played just 63% of the Jets’ defensive snaps this year.

Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was asked about Williams’s playing time on Thursday. His response will only serve as more fuel to the fire that burns under his seat.

“There are these critical moments in games [where you ask], ‘Why is Quinnen not out there?’, and you look to the side and he’s gasping for air,” Ulbrich said.

“Just got to be judicious with it. Got to absolutely use him as much as we can, and as much as we can in critical moments, for sure. But I still think there has to be a level of rotation. He plays at such a high clip and he goes so hard that, sometimes more is less, or more isn’t necessarily as good. Because now you’re not seeing the speed, the explosiveness, all the special stuff from an athletic standpoint that he brings.”

Of the other 31 NFL teams, only six of them are playing their most-used defensive tackle for fewer snaps per game than Williams, and none of those six teams have a defensive tackle who is playing close to Williams’s level. The highest-graded DT1 of those six teams at Pro Football Focus is Dallas’s Osa Odighizuwa, whose 72.2 overall PFF grade sits well behind Williams’s 82.7.

Williams’s 88.5 pass-rush grade ranks third at his position, per PFF, and he is playing the fewest snaps per game among the players ranked in the top five. The other four players (Kenny Clark, Aaron Donald, Chris Jones, Jeffery Simmons) combine for an average of 52.6 snaps per game.

Ulbrich’s response is puzzling considering that Williams has played incredibly well in the rare instances when he was allowed to play a high snap count. Here is a look at Williams’s production across his most recent three games where he played over 70% of the Jets’ defensive snaps (all in the 2020 season, predating Ulbrich’s arrival):

  • 17 pressures (5.7 per game)
  • 10 run stops (3.3 per game)
  • 6 quarterback hits (2.0 per game)
  • 2.5 sacks (0.83 per game)
  • 2 pass deflections
  • 1 forced fumble
  • 0 missed tackles
  • 84.5 overall Pro Football Focus grade

The three games: Week 4 vs. Denver (50 snaps / 71%), Week 12 vs. Miami (52 snaps / 73%), Week 13 vs. Las Vegas (64 snaps / 82%)

Across those three games, Williams played 55.3 snaps per game on a 75% ratio. It seems like he was able to handle the increased workload just fine, so it is certainly strange that the Jets are not willing to at least give Williams a chance to prove he could handle a higher snap count.

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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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Richard Hausig
Richard Hausig
2 months ago

All talk, no results. Thank you coach Lombardi for clarifying that you know best, 32nd best. Two years running.

I think it’s very disrespectful to Q, who is doing his job a lot better than our soon to be ex DC. 3 weeks ago all we heard was that the locker room was a love fest, how’s that working out?

Tyson Madding
Tyson Madding
2 months ago

They are stubborn and they only care about having a smart scheme even though everyone can see it hasn’t worked in 20 games ….I’m sooo done we actually have talent for once and they refuse to use it bc it does not fit what they want so we’ll just keep losing to boost Thier EGOs

Rich
Rich
2 months ago

…little faith in this coaching staff

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
2 months ago

I thought it was all Saleh. We finally notbonly have a good GM we have a top GM who over the past two years nailed the draft…and thats an understatement.
Ulbrich and Saleh should be quiet and working thier asses off. Of the big 3 coaches on a football team, head coach, offensive and defensive co-ordinators only LeFluer has aquieted himself well.
Let’s face it, there hasn’t been this much talent on a Jets roster in decades. They may be young but it’s obvious to me the failure is about coaching.
I don’t want to waste the cheap years of the guys drafted the past two years nor do I want to see guys careers stunted by coaches with more ego than talent.
I do not want this dragging on into next year or even finish this season the same way as last season.
This may sound crazy but I’ve done well personally thinking out of the box.
If Saleh and Ulbrich are still falling flat while Lefleur is doing his thing, bring back Rex Ryan as soon as the game ends when the bye Week comes.
Rex can be a CEO type coach. Keep LeFleur, and from “your guys” bring in a head coach and D co-ordinator and whoever else needs replacing and turn tge D around.
Rex can have tge DH DC OC and other coaches reporting to him and start with the D.
Rex can over-see things from the box or sideline or both.
CULTURE needs to be instilled and if Saleh and Ulbrech are holding this team back, don’t drag otbout…. ACT!!
I’d love to see these guys succeed but if not,
don’t let tgebtalent seep out.