It is entirely too soon to make any definitive conclusions about Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, the third overall pick in the 2019 draft. Judging a player’s career after 12 games and eight starts is neither fair nor feasible, because a much larger sample size is required to make that kind of evaluation.
But it is appropriate to suggest that Williams must show more — a lot more — in the coming years to justify the team’s investment in a player who created such high expectations. When you draft someone that high, you need to see an impact player, and Williams hasn’t yet lived up to that.
Williams has only 28 tackles and 2 ½ sacks as he prepares for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Bills. And while the Jets' defense collectively has overachieved, Williams’ contributions have been minimal. He came out of Alabama as a dominant interior lineman, but the big-time plays just haven’t happened with the Jets.
It’s not all that unusual for a defensive tackle to need time to develop at the NFL level, where offensive linemen are much bigger and schemes are far more complex. But Williams will have to show significant improvement — starting next season — to convince the Jets that they have a big-time player and not the second coming of Leonard Williams, another top 10 defensive lineman who never lived up to his promise.
“Old man” Brady still feels like a kid
There have been quarterbacks age 42 or over who have started in the NFL, but never has one started a full 16-game season. Until now.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will become the first player to do it when he takes the field on Sunday against the Dolphins. The only other quarterbacks to start games older than 42: Steve DeBerg, Vinny Testaverde and Warren Moon.
“It’s good to be available to the team,” Brady told reporters on Friday. “That’s what I try to do, and yeah, it’s pretty cool. Hopefully we keep it going. As important as the first game of the year is, so is the last game. This is really essentially a playoff game for us. So I’m happy to be out there starting and hopefully I can go out there and play well.”
If the Patriots beat Miami, they’ll secure the second seed in the AFC playoffs, thus earning an all-important bye week before hosting an AFC divisional-round playoff game in Foxborough.
Despite being the NFL’s oldest current starter, Brady still feels young.
“I’m throwing the ball around to these receivers and you think, when I was a kid, I’d be in the parking lot at Candlestick [Park in San Francisco], throwing the football with my friends. Now I’m throwing to the best athletes in the world and then getting paid for it . . . I feel like a kid, and I think it’s important to still look at it like that.”
Chubb runs for a piece of history
It has been a mostly disappointing season for the Browns, who had visions of a playoff run but enter the final game at 6-9. But second-year running back Nick Chubb has been terrific, rushing for an NFL-best 1,453 yards. Chubb needs 47 rushing yards against the Bengals to join Browns legend Jim Brown as the only players in franchise history to rush for at least 1,500 yards in a season.
Spags works his magic
Just as he did with the Giants in 2007, when he got off to a slow start but eventually built a championship-caliber defense, Steve Spagnuolo has enjoyed success with the Chiefs.
They are in the midst of a five-game winning streak, and while Patrick Mahomes’ offense receives most of the praise, Spagnuolo’s defense has been just as good. The Chiefs have allowed 280 or fewer yards in their last three games, and a win over the Chargers on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium would keep Kansas City on a roll going into the playoffs.
Spagnuolo will match wits with quarterback Philip Rivers, who might be playing his final game in a Chargers uniform.
“He is still the elite competitor that we all know him to be,” said Spagnuolo, who was an important part of the Giants’ 2007 Super Bowl run with Eli Manning, who was traded for Rivers during the 2004 draft. “I still think he’s playing at a high level. This guy could come in here and be everything we’ve seen him be before, and hopefully we don’t let it happen.”
It’s a Brees
Saints quarterback Drew Brees remains red-hot. Going into Sunday’s final regular-season game in Carolina, he has 19 touchdown passes and one interception in his last six starts. After surging past Peyton Manning for the most career touchdown passes (544), Brees now is closing in on another record. He has completed 75.3% of his passes, which leads the NFL, and can surpass his own single-season record of 74.4% set last year.