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Pipe down, Quinnen Williams critics: NY Jets star is good as ever

Quinnen Williams, NY Jets, Stats, Sacks
Quinnen Williams, New York Jets, Getty Images

Regardless of what the sack column shows, New York Jets star Quinnen Williams is still dominating

Six games into his four-year, $96 million contract, New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams has just 0.5 sacks. Last season, he finished with 12.0 sacks. He had 5.0 sacks through six games.

Clearly, Williams has taken a step back in the first year of his new contract, right?

Wrong.

Evaluating defensive linemen based solely on the sack column is foolish. Sacks are wonderful, but they hardly tell the whole story about a player’s impact.

Williams typically plays around 50 snaps per game. If he gets one sack in a game, does that sack alone make the game a great performance?

While getting one sack is awesome (if you do that every week, you’ll get 17 sacks in a season, which is DPOY stuff), what did you do on your other 49 snaps? The positive impact you make on other snaps should not be ignored if you fail to get a sack. At the same time, your struggles on other snaps should not be overlooked just because you got a sack. The whole body of work is what matters, and sacks are only one small piece of that.

Hopefully, Williams will get back to his previous sack production in due time. His current productivity level suggests he will. Sometimes the chips just don’t fall a player’s way for sacks to happen, even if he is doing his best to consistently win reps and create chances.

Regardless of whether those sacks come or not, it cannot be denied that Williams is still dominating and making an enormous impact for the Jets defense.

Don’t fixate on the sack column. Williams has been just as dominant as he was in 2022 – if not more so.

Williams is currently tied with Tennessee’s Jeffery Simmons for the second-most pressures among defensive tackles with 25, per PFF. They trail only Aaron Donald (30).

Williams’ consistency as a pass rusher has actually improved off of 2022. Last season, Williams ranked eighth among defensive tackles with 52 pressures. With those coming in 16 games, he averaged 3.25 pressures per game. This year, Williams is averaging 4.17 pressures per game – putting him on pace for 71 pressures in 17 games.

While it helps that Williams is playing more snaps this year (30.8 pass-rush snaps per game vs. 26.3 / 69% defensive snap percentage vs. 65%), he has still been more efficient as a pass rusher on a per-snap basis. Williams’ pressure rate was 12.4% in 2022, a career-high. This year, he’s taken another leap to 13.5%.

Some fans scoff at the value of pressures, instead clamoring for the splashy, easily noticeable plays that show up on the highlights and in the box score. They like sacks because they can easily Google “how many sacks does [player] have” and send the screenshot to their friends, whereas you can’t do that as easily with obscure stats such as pressures.

Those fans are wrong. Do not overlook how impactful a pressure can be. In many cases, it can be just as impactful (if not more so) than a sack.

Take this play, for instance. On the first play of New York’s game-sealing drive against Philadelphia, it was a pressure by Williams that set the Jets up for success. Williams beats left guard Landon Dickerson and pressures Jalen Hurts into misfiring on an easy pass underneath to A.J. Brown, forcing an incompletion to get the drive off to a great start.

No other Jets pass rusher won on that play, so without Williams creating pressure to alter Hurts’ throwing mechanics, Hurts gets a clean pocket and probably completes the pass to Brown. At the very least, it would be a nice chunk of yardage to set up second-and-medium, but with Brown’s YAC skills, there’s no limit to how big the play could’ve been. Instead, Williams’ pressure turns a should-be positive result into a negative result.

It also cannot be understated how valuable Williams has been in the run game.

Williams is the second-highest graded run defender among defensive tackles at PFF. He has the fourth-highest run stop rate among DTs with at least 100 run defense snaps (11.7%) and is yet to be credited with a missed tackle against the run – he’s played the fifth-most run defense snaps without a miss (107) among DTs.

The pressure against Dickerson was not the only sneakily massive play that Williams made near the end of the Eagles game. A few plays earlier, he made one as a run defender.

Two plays before Tony Adams’ tide-turning interception, Williams essentially made a game-saving play that few people noticed.

On a first-and-10 handoff to Kenneth Gainwell, the Eagles have almost everyone blocked up well enough for Gainwell to pick up a first down and end the game – except for Williams. Quinnen crosses the right guard’s face and roams all the way across the defensive line to stop Gainwell on his own. Without Williams winning his one-on-one battle, this looks like it would have been an easy first down to all but seal the Eagles’ victory.

Ranked second in pressures (25) and tied for eighth in run stops (12), Williams joins Aaron Donald, Jonathan Allen, and Dexter Lawrence as the only defensive tackles who are currently ranked top-10 in both categories. His combined total of 37 pressures and run stops trails only Donald’s 43.

It’s also worth mentioning that Williams has accomplished this despite the Jets facing a tough schedule of opposing offensive lines so far. Five of the six offensive lines on New York’s schedule are currently ranked in the top half of PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency metric (New England being the exception). Philadelphia and Kansas City, in particular, have two of the best lines in the league.

On top of that, Williams is the primary focus of every offensive line he faces. He often attracts double teams – or even triple teams.

Don’t be a sack scout. Look at the entire picture and it’s clear that Quinnen Williams is still Quinnen Williams – perhaps even the best version of Quinnen Williams that we’ve ever seen.

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Matt Galemmo
8 months ago

I froze that run stop video at :06 and if Q isn’t there…that’s a touchdown. Mosley’s not getting there, Whitehead is filling the wrong gap and Adams is stuck in quicksand. It is incredible how tiny the difference is between winning and losing.

mlesko73
mlesko73
8 months ago

Well damn, I hope a certain coworker of yours who wrote an article about a bunch of Jets “underachievers”, Quinnen among them, is listening.
Those underachievers included: Jermaine, Tony Adams, and Garrett Wilson.
Hard to imagine us winning the Eagles game without them!

Jets71
Jets71
8 months ago
Reply to  mlesko73

I also read that article, not that writer’s best work, seemed more like venting and looking for blame. Glad you made mention of the article I was about to do it.

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