Making plays at a historic rate, it’s no longer a stretch to claim that New York Jets star Quincy Williams is the NFL’s best linebacker
On Sunday, Williams took the field for the first time since the posting of that article. He had some high expectations to live up to after how highly I spoke of him.
And what did Williams do? Well, he put together his best game yet in an already stellar season – further solidifying his case to be the best linebacker in football right now.
Williams was the leader of a purely dominant defensive performance in which the Jets held the Giants to 10 points across 17 possessions (with three of those points gift-wrapped by a Jets turnover). As active as he’s been all year, Williams has never been quite as active as he was in this game, which is saying quite a bit considering Williams already led all linebackers with 30 defensive stops through Week 6.
- For perspective, a “defensive stop” is a tackle on a play that constitutes a failure for the offense.
Against the Giants, Williams recorded a career-high 10 defensive stops. It ties the Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner for the most stops in a game by any defensive player in the NFL this season.
In addition to his 10 stops, Williams locked down in coverage, notching a pass breakup and allowing just five yards on three targets in his direction. It was yet another display of all-around greatness from the Jets’ newest defensive superstar.
Sit back and enjoy Williams carving up the Giants offense.
Williams now leads linebackers with 40 stops on the season, putting him comfortably ahead of multiple players who have not had their bye week yet. On a per-game basis, his average of 5.7 stops per game is a full 1.0 stop per game ahead of anyone else.
- Quincy Williams, NYJ: 40 (7 games: 5.7 per game)
- Foyesade Oluokun, JAX: 37 (8 games: 4.6 per game)
- Zaire Franklin, IND: 36 (8 games: 4.5 per game)
- T.J. Edwards, CHI: 34 (8 games: 4.3 per game)
- Bobby Wagner, SEA: 33 (7 games: 4.7 per game)
Not only is Williams in the No. 1 spot among this year’s crop, but he’s on a historic pace. Williams’ average of 5.7 stops per game would be the best ever recorded since the stat was first tracked in 2006 (min. 12 games played). The current record holder is Lavonte David, who averaged 5.4 per game for the Buccaneers in 2014 (75 in 14 games).
In terms of total stops, the record holder is Luke Kuechly, who had 81 stops in 16 games back in 2014. At his current pace of 5.7 stops per game, Williams is on pace to break that record by a longshot with 97 stops. Even if he played 16 games, he’d be on pace for 91 stops, beating Kuechly’s record by 10.
Adding to his activity as a tackler, Williams has established himself as one of the league’s best linebackers in coverage. Williams ranks second at the position with six passes defended. In addition, he is allowing only 6.4 yards per reception on throws into his coverage, per PFF, which is the lowest mark among the 48 linebackers who have defended at least 15 receptions.
The icing on that cake is that Williams continues to be an efficient finisher. His high volume of highlight-reel plays is not coming at a cost. Simply put, he’s racking up a ton of big plays and hardly ever messing up in the process.
Williams is tied for 27th among linebackers with six missed tackles despite ranking 14th in snaps played and first in stops. His plus-34 margin between total stops (40) and missed tackles (6) remains the best margin at the position. Bobby Wagner ranks second at plus-31.
An “exciting young player?” Nah. An “up-and-coming young star?” Nope. Those titles are long gone.
It’s time to start calling Quincy Williams what he is: someone who deserves to be mentioned in any conversation about who might be the NFL’s best linebacker in 2023.
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