New York Jets: Gregg Williams deserves a ton of credit
By Michael Henken
Despite a disappointing season, New York Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams deserves a ton of credit for the work he’s done with his unit.
Last season, the New York Jets defense was supposed to be the team’s strong point. That, however, didn’t turn out to be the case, as the unit was wildly inconsistent throughout much of the season.
That, along with many other reasons, led ownership to, for the most part, completely rearrange the coaching staff.
When Adam Gase was named as the team’s new head coach, however, many of the questions regarding the defense remained given Gase’s reputation as an offensive specialist. It’s why Gase famously said that he would be looking to bring in a “head coach” of the defense to handle things on that side of the ball.
And when it was announced that Gregg Williams would be signing on as the team’s new defensive coordinator, there was a bit of optimism in the air given Williams’ infamous no-nonsense approach and his style that’s based on physicality, aggressiveness and exotic blitz packages.
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It seemed as if Williams was the right man for the job. The type of coordinator who could instill new life into a unit that had previously lacked discipline and the type of killer instinct needed to close out a 60-minute football game.
And prior to the start of the 2019 season, it appeared as if Williams would have some intriguing tools to work with.
Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, for example, was the leader of the secondary. The team had also signed highly-touted free agent linebacker C.J. Mosley to serve as the “quarterback of the defense”.
Defensive lineman Quinnen Williams was also selected with the third overall pick and, at the time, it was thought that he could potentially elevate the play of Leonard Williams.
Since then, however, it has been a rough road for the Jets. The team, which sits at 6-9 overall, has been depleted by injuries, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Linebackers Mosley and Avery Williamson have been hurt for much of the season. Cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts have also spent time on the injured list, as has nickel back Brian Poole.
Leonard Williams was traded away and Quinnen Williams is just now slowly but surely beginning to make some noise. Even Adams missed multiple games with an injury.
Clearly, Williams isn’t dealing with the type of personnel he expected to week in and week out.
But it’s this unfortunate reality that has made what he’s done this season all the more impressive. While many have blamed Gase for the team’s lack of success and have called for him to be fired, Williams has been a breath of fresh air.
Earlier this week, Brian Costello of the New York Post noted the Jets’ defensive rankings, indicating that the unit ranked seventh overall, second in run defense, and 15th in pass defense.
Those would be impressive numbers regardless, but given the type of players the Jets currently have on defense, the rankings become even more eye-opening.
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In addition, Gregg Williams has continuously made mid-game adjustments on defense, something that was truly lacking last season.
Just this past week, for example, the Jets were ahead against the Pittsburgh Steelers early on, but the black and gold seemed to be gaining momentum as the first half ended.
In the second half, however, the Steelers gained just 61 yards on six possessions and punted five times. Overall, the Jets had four sacks, forced two turnovers, and allowed the Steelers to convert just three of 14 third downs.
These adjustments made by Williams have been seen throughout the season as well. According to Connor Hughes of The Athletic, no team besides the Baltimore Ravens have scored more than 14 points in the second half against the Jets since Week 8.
Looking ahead, Williams will need this type of fire and these types of adjustments, as the Jets are set to rematch the Buffalo Bills, who torched them in the second half of their Week 1 matchup, this weekend.
Ultimately, this season hasn’t turned out quite how the Jets had expected it to. And while ownership and Gase could be blamed, the injuries also need to be taken into account.
But that’s why Gregg Williams has been so impressive as well.
And when he gets all of the pieces to his puzzle back together, the New York Jets could once again have one of the league’s most feared defenses, something it hasn’t had since earlier this decade.