NY Jets’ defensive lineman Quinnen Williams has lived up to his word.
The same people who turned their backs on Williams have now found themselves voting him into the Pro Bowl. The former 2019 third overall draft pick has transformed from a so-called “bust,” into one of the league’s most elite defenders.
The Alabama product added another 1.5 sacks to his monster season last Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, putting him at a total of five on the year. Even more impressively, he managed seven quarterback pressures, two passes defended, and a forced fumble.
ESPN’s Rich Cimini pointed out that “Williams had the NFL’s fourth-highest pass rush win rate for interior defensive linemen in week 12 – 30.8 percent.”
The 22-year old Williams not only leads the Jets in sacks, but per Jets X-Factor’s Michael Nania, he also leads all interior defensive linemen in stops.
His newfound game-breaking ability has catapulted him into the same atmosphere as some of the NFL’s best interior defensive linemen, including Arizona’s Chris Jones, Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett, and Pittsburgh’s Stephon Tuitt.
Williams’ 2019 season compared to his 2020 season has been like night and day. According to Next Gen Stats, Williams’ quarterback pressure rate has jumped from 5.8 percent last year, to 10.2 percent this year.
Where there was once trade speculation around Williams near the deadline, there is now talk of building around him as the key foundational piece in this Jets defense.
In not even two full seasons with the Jets, Williams has been through it all. On draft day in 2019, the fans loved him not only for his superior production at Alabama, but also for his boyish charm after blessing himself after sneezing on national television.
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound kid with braces quickly became a fan favorite, and almost just as quickly became an afterthought.
Many NY Jets fans soured on Quinnen Williams after an underwhelming rookie year
Trying to find Williams on the field in 2019 was a lot like trying to find Waldo. He was there, but often hiding in plain sight.
Not only was he disappointing, but he was nearly nonexistent. His underwhelming play on the field became a living symbol of former general manager Mike Maccagnan’s failure to build a competent roster through the draft.
Williams looked like a dud at a position the Jets didn’t really need. Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s rookie edge rusher Josh Allen was looking like an emerging star at a position the Jets have failed to fill for over a decade.
Williams’ youthfulness that Jets fans loved got old fast, as it was starting to look like he was too soft to play in the NFL. After a miserable rookie year, he sunk even lower and finally hit rock bottom after being arrested for possession of an illegal firearm at LaGuardia Airport.
Coming into his second season, Williams was at the bottom of Jets fans’ totem poles as many had already written him off as a bust. In fact, when Williams came out and said he would be “unstoppable” in 2020 back in training camp, nobody really cared.
It turns out that Williams actually did something that many Jets players and coaches of years past have failed to do — turn words into action.
According to ESPN’s Seth Walder, Williams ranks first among defensive tackles in run-stop win rate, and fifth in pass-rush win rate — basically solidifying himself as a top-five player at his position this season.
With Williams leading an underrated group of defensive linemen, the Jets are simply a dominant edge rusher away from potentially rekindling the days of the New York Sack Exchange.