Quinnen Williams has shaken off the rust and is shaking off blockers, proving he can be a disruptive pass rusher.
The third-year tackle started to show it last season, but Williams, who missed OTAs and part of training camp because of foot surgery, has taken another step while playing in Jets coach Robert Saleh’s 4-3 front.
Williams is looking to build off last week’s game, in which he had two of the Jets’ seven sacks in a win over the Titans.
"You can see a lot of growth," he said. "The first couple of games I was kind of rusty, shaking off the foot injury and stuff like that. Now you can see I’m getting my explosiveness back, getting my feeling back for the game."
The play of the defense as a whole has the Jets (1-3) feeling very confident going into Sunday’s game against the Falcons in London. They hope they turned a corner with last week’s strong performance on both sides of the ball and can go into their bye week on a two-game winning streak.
"It felt good to have a win last week," quarterback Zach Wilson said. "That’s definitely the focus — to be able to get that win before the bye week."
The Jets are tied for fourth in the NFL with 13 sacks through Week 4, and Williams is leading them at 3.5. He’s halfway to matching his total from last season.
The Jets’ plan Sunday inside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is to try to make Matt Ryan feel what Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill felt last week, when he was hit 14 times.
Williams said it was a "steppingstone" and "a good starting point" for the defense.
Ryan, a more prolific passer, isn’t as mobile as Tannehill, who got swallowed up a few times by the Jets’ defensive line. But the two have something in common. Tannehill was missing his top two receivers, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, because of hamstring injuries. Ryan won’t have his No. 1 receiver, Calvin Ridley, or Russell Gage.
Ridley didn’t make the trip to London because of personal reasons and Gage has an ankle injury.
The Jets will focus on stopping rookie tight end Kyle Pitts and returner extraordinaire Cordarrelle Patterson, who has a major role in coach Arthur Smith’s offense.
Patterson is lining up everywhere for the Falcons, his fifth team in six years. He already has five offensive touchdowns, more than any season since his rookie year in 2013.
"I don’t even know what to say he is," said Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, who ended last season as the Falcons’ interim defensive coordinator. "He lines up probably at running back more than any other position, but still, he’s at tight end at times, he’s at wide receiver at times. They’re definitely finding a lot of interesting, unique, creative ways to utilize his skill set.
"He’s long and he’s fast and he’s physical and he plays hard. He’s going to be a great challenge."
Patterson, who has eight career touchdowns on kick returns, has done most of his damage catching the football. He has 18 receptions and four receiving TDs.
Keeping Patterson from turning short passes into long gains, along with pressuring Ryan and keeping him out of any rhythm, will go a long way toward determining whether the Jets will have an enjoyable flight back to the United States.
"It’s a long season. You can go from 0-3 to 3-3 quick," Williams said. "To do that, you got to be executing on every single cylinder. Last week was one of the times that you saw, ‘Yo, we can be good if we execute.’ Let’s put the pressure on ourselves to do this the right way so we can be the good team that we know we can be."