Quinnen Williams doesn’t just watch film of Kansas City defensive tackle Chris Jones. Williams spends hours in the offseason with Jones, training with him, talking and picking things up that can help him get better.
“I took everything he ever did from his game,” Williams said. “Every single thing he taught me, every single thing he gave me, wisdom, knowledge on the field, off the field, I took it all and put it inside my game. I feel like training with him helped become the player I am today.”
This has been going on for about four years and it’s definitely helped Williams.
He had his breakout season in 2022, recording 12 sacks and earning First-Team All-Pro. The other First-Team All-Pro defensive tackle was Jones. His 15.5 sacks last year were the most at his position. Williams ranked second.
Jones, who sat out all of training camp and the preseason due to a contract dispute, is picking up right where he left off. He came into Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium with 2.5 sacks in two games.
Williams is still searching for his first sack of 2023, which wasn’t going to be easy to get against Kansas City. Patrick Mahomes had been sacked just once.
Getting to the quarterback hasn’t been the story of the Jets’ season. It’s been their own quarterbacks.
They lost Aaron Rodgers four offensive snaps into the season to a torn left Achilles tendon. Rodgers returned to the Jets Saturday night for the first time since undergoing surgery in California on Sept. 13. He attended team meetings and Sunday’s game.
Zach Wilson took over for Rodgers and has been vilified by fans, football analysts and even Joe Namath.
The lead-up to this game was more about who would be watching from suites rather than playing on the field.
Rodgers and pop superstar Taylor Swift, who has been linked to Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce, were in attendance. But the Jets hope Rodgers’ presence and calming effect that he has on Wilson could lead to better play from the embattled young quarterback.
The Jets’ defense is staying in their lane and focusing on how they can make the opposing quarterback’s life difficult.
They did a good job Week 1 against Buffalo, sacking Josh Allen five times and forcing four takeaways. The Jets went into Sunday’s game with just one sack in the previous two games .
There are several reasons the Jets’ defensive line or Williams hasn’t been as impactful. Teams are focusing more on Williams and they’re also having their quarterbacks get rid of the ball quicker.
“We can do better, absolutely,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. “We haven’t had a ton of opportunities to rush the quarterback. Teams have attacked us in a different way. A lot of run game, a lot of quick game, a lot of play action, a lot of boot, keepers, all that stuff, where high efficiency, not holding the ball very long and really making a concerted effort to try to eliminate our defensive from the game if they can.”
Williams isn’t making any excuses. He knows he can do better and he’s striving for that.
The Jets gave Williams a four-year, $96 million contract extension before training camp started. He became the first Jets’ first-round pick to receive a second contract since Muhammed Wilkinson in 2011. Williams was also the first Jets since Wilkinson in 2015 to have double-digit sacks.
“We’re not getting to the quarterback at a high rate and I’m not getting to the quarterback at high rate right now,” Williams said. “I hold myself to a higher standard than anybody else on what can I do to help this team win football games and what can I do to put the offense and put the team in position to win football games. There’s an urgency in that.”
Ulbrich feels that urgency, too.
“It’s hard for him right now from the standpoint of, he is a game wrecker,” Ulbrich said. “We know it, but unfortunately every team that we play knows it … He definitely gets the majority of the attention regarding protection and how they turn the protection, how they protect their quarterbacks.
“I can do better putting him in better positions to be successful. We can all do better.”
The Jets didn’t only reward Williams with a new deal. They put a 'C' on his chest. After losing Rodgers, Robert Saleh decided to fill the captaincy void with Williams.
“He embodies everything,” Saleh said. “After just thinking about it, I was just like, ‘Why not? That guy is such a big vocal leader in this room and on this team. He says all the right things, he does all the right things, and stands for everything that we believe in.”