The NY Jets' defensive coaching staff has come under criticism in recent weeks for their continued heavy rotation of the defensive line — a rotation that has kept Quinnen Williams, arguably the team's best player, off the field for extended periods of time.
Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich spoke to the media on Thursday following practice and answered questions about the team's extensive rotation. His response came across more as throwing his player under the bus than anything.
Ulbrich responded by rhetorically asking "Why isn't Quinnen out there?" before insisting that, in those moments, people can "look to the side and see him gasping for air."
Mind you, Williams continues to play roughly 50-60 percent of snaps per game which is well below the league average for a player of his stature. Ulbrich is seemingly insisting here that Williams can't handle playing a higher snap count in this scheme.
So rather than reconsider Williams' usage and maybe even give their best player more snaps, Ulbrich seemingly took a shot at his conditioning. I'm sure that will go over well with the defensive players.
Jeff Ulbrich and the NY Jets continue to underutilize Quinnen Williams
The stunning lack of usage of Quinnen Williams has been discouraging, to say the least. Williams was on the field for just 59 percent of the Jets' defensive snaps last season and only 63 percent so far in 2022.
Despite this, he's playing some of the best football of his career, ranking second in pass-rush win rate at defensive tackle despite being double-teamed more often than not. He has 1.5 sacks through three games while his 88.5 Pro Football Focus pass-rush grade ranks third behind just Aaron Donald and Kenny Clark.
It's fair to wonder what Williams' impact could be if he was allowed to play more than 50-60 percent of snaps and if the Jets had any sort of a pass-rush presence on the edge.
Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich have preached the importance of rotating their defensive line, but this is in stark contrast to how Saleh used his best defensive linemen in San Francisco.
DeForest Buckner, the 49ers' star defensive tackle never played fewer than 77 percent of defensive snaps in a season under Saleh. So what gives? Why can't Williams do the same with the Jets?
It's not that he's incapable of doing so either. Jets X Factor's Michael Nania pointed out that some of Williams' best performances have come when he was allowed to play more than 70 percent of his team's snaps.
This is yet another instance of the Jets' defensive coaching staff being stubborn to their failing scheme. The Jets refuse to adapt on defense and, as a result, they're failing to maximize the talent they have on that side of the ball.
With Quinnen Williams entering the final year of his rookie contract next season, it's fair to ponder if he would even want to stick around in New York. He's being perpetually underutilized and is now getting thrown under the bus by his teammates.
Ulbrich's words won't be forgotten anytime soon, especially if the defense continues to underperform.