Quincy Williams is putting it all together for the New York Jets
I’m a guy who has been more critical of New York Jets linebacker Quincy Williams than most. I thought his first season with the Jets was somewhat overrated. His flashes were brilliant, but those flashes came at the cost of too many mistakes for my liking. Williams needed to become more consistent to fulfill his potential.
And he is doing just that.
In his second season as a Jet, Williams is starting to put everything together. He is still making plenty of splashy plays, but at the same time, he is making fewer mistakes. Williams’s peak moments are getting the chance to shine because they are not being weighed down by his blunders.
Williams’s Week 6 performance against the Green Bay Packers is what officially turned me into a fan of his game.
When he was carted off the field with a scary ankle injury against the Bengals in Week 3, it seemed like Williams could be facing a long absence. Instead, Williams beat the odds and made a surprisingly quick return, coming back to face Green Bay in Week 6 after missing only two games.
Kwon Alexander was shining in Williams’s absence. I thought Alexander had done enough to take Williams’s starting job. But the Jets disagreed, as they allowed Williams to regain his starting spot next to C.J. Mosley in his first game back.
And, boy, did Williams prove them right for making that decision.
Williams put together an outstanding performance against the Packers, coupling tremendous fundamentals with his unique athleticism to make a plethora of huge plays. He anticipated plays, made good reads, defeated blocks, and avoided overrunning plays. With success in those areas, Williams’s speed and hard-hitting ability were able to flourish.
The Jets held Green Bay to a season-low 60 rushing yards on a measly 3.0 yards per carry. Williams was an integral cog in that effort. He led the Jets with 14 total tackles, which is the second-highest mark of his career.
On its own, a player’s tackle total does not really tell you anything about how well they played. Context is necessary. How many of those tackles were actually valuable?
In Williams’s case, most of his 14 tackles were extremely valuable for New York. He made one crucial stop after the next. Against the run, seven of Williams’s nine tackles held the runner to a gain of 3 yards or fewer. Against the pass, four of Williams’s five tackles held the receiver short of the first down marker.
Let’s dive into Williams’s film against the Packers.
Quincy Williams film vs. Packers
Quincy Williams wears No. 56.
The best thing about Williams’s game right now is that he’s doing more than just making those eye-popping big hits. He’s excelling at the dirty work, too.
Here, Williams displays great patience as he does a nice job of reading the flow of the play. At the snap, he stays home and prepares to play the A-gap in case A.J. Dillon pounds it up the middle. But when he sees Dillon plant and turn his hips outside, he mirrors him and gets to the edge, teaming up with Jordan Whitehead for the stop.
Williams lines up in the slot and then drops into a curl/flat zone. Aaron Rodgers dumps the ball off into the flat near Williams, and the Jets’ young linebacker shows off his speed and finishing power. Great pursuit angle and great timing.
Obviously, this play is exciting due to the sheer power of Williams’s hit, but this hit is more than just a cool-looking play for the highlight reel. It’s a highly valuable play. This is a one-on-one in the open field between a linebacker and a wide receiver (Romeo Doubs). There is a lot of YAC potential here. Instead, Williams’s hit is so perfect that Doubs gets zero YAC whatsoever.
But you also have to love the intangible aspect of hits like this. They energize the team; in a similar fashion to highlight-reel dunks in a basketball game. Look at Robert Saleh’s reaction on the sideline nearby where Williams makes the hit! Williams is an energizer who gets his team revved up.
Plays like this really display the development of Williams. An enormous B-gap opens up as soon as the ball is snapped. Williams could easily be enticed into shooting that gap aggressively, but he stays patient and just fulfills his gap responsibility, staying home and waiting for the RB to declare before he pursues.
Once the RB bends the run back, Williams shoots the gap. His younger brother Quinnen wraps up the RB and Quincy meets him there as the siblings share a tackle.
On a second-and-4 play, Williams and C.J. Mosley come up big. The Packers create a nice hole as they plow the Jets’ two play-side defensive linemen (DT Solomon Thomas and DE Vinny Curry) to the inside. It’s up to Williams and Mosley to make a stop here, and they get it done, forcing a third down play as they hold A.J. Dillon to three yards.
For Williams, you once again have to love the discipline. There is nobody threatening to block him, so he could easily pursue downhill immediately if he wanted to – which would be reckless and likely lead to a missed tackle and a big run. Instead, Williams sits back and patiently analyzes the offensive line’s movement, shuffling laterally with them as he maintains his edge responsibility. Once Dillon commits to running downhill, Williams squares up and comes in to make the play.
Watch it. Watch it again. Marvel at it. This is art from Quincy Williams. If videos could be framed, they would hang this in the Louvre.
First of all, notice the reaction speed and anticipation. Williams looks like a mirror image of Aaron Jones on this play. He immediately diagnoses the run concept and recognizes that he needs to get into the back-side A-gap – and fast.
Then, Williams’s pure athleticism takes over. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, it only took Williams 1.1 seconds after the snap to eclipse 10 miles per hour. That is incredible acceleration. He peaked at 13.2 miles per hour around the 1.5-second mark, which is the fastest max speed reached by any player on the field during this play.
Next, Williams does a great job of beating the left guard’s block by getting low and dipping beneath him. Give an assist to Quinnen for engaging the left guard’s outer half, restricting him to using only one arm to try and block Quincy.
Finally, Williams finishes with picture-perfect form, limiting Jones to no gain.
Nathan Shepherd and Solomon Thomas eat up blocks to keep the A-gap clean for Williams, so he shoots through and teams up with Shepherd for the stop.
Carl Lawson sets a hard edge to force Dillon into turning the run back upfield. Williams reads the action nicely, mirroring Dillon as he turns back inside. Williams throws on the brakes, squares his hips, and takes Dillon down with yet another beautiful tackle that limits the runner to no bonus yardage after contact.
Williams is reading the run game so well. He starts this play with his hips turned to the sideline, ready to get out in front of Jones, but Jones bends the run back when he sees Sheldon Rankins impede the back side A-gap. Williams reacts accordingly. He stops, squares back up to the line of scrimmage, and uses his left arm to push-by the guard and keep himself clean. Williams teams up with John Franklin-Myers for the stop.
Quincy Williams is becoming a fully-realized version of himself
Quincy Williams’s upside has been apparent since the first game he wore a Jets uniform. When he is locked-in, he looks as good as any linebacker in the NFL. That has always been the case. It’s a product of his special physical gifts.
Those moments just weren’t frequent enough in Jacksonville, which is why he was released so early in his career despite being a third-round pick.
Williams improved slightly in 2021 but was still playing too recklessly. He played linebacker like a faulty home-run hitter in baseball – going for it all on every play, for better or worse. It was a home run or a strikeout with no in between.
Now, Williams is playing more like a polished home-run hitter – one who still swings the bat aggressively and hits plenty of homers, but is developing the discipline to turn some of his strikeouts into walks and singles.
If Williams continues building on the development he has shown this season, he will establish himself as a core long-term piece for the Jets’ defense.