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Leonard Williams, Jets’ D-line takes Todd Bowles’ stern message as ‘challenge’

Jets defensive end Leonard Williams talked about the challenges facing the Oakland Raiders' offense in Week 2 after practice on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. (Credit: Newsday / Calvin Watkins)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — After the Jets allowed 190 rushing yards in a season-opening loss to the Bills, coach Todd Bowles noted that was unacceptable and called out the defensive line.

Defensive end Leonard Williams understood why.

“I took it as a challenge. Whenever you get called out, you’re going to take it pretty strongly,” he said after Thursday’s practice. “We got called out not because we had a horrible game but because of the potential that we have as a defensive line — since I’ve been here, that’s been one of the strong points of the team is our defensive line. We’re able to change games and we didn’t do that this past Sunday. We could have changed the game and created a difference, and that’s what we’re looking to do this week.”

Williams, 23, didn’t have a bad game. He had five total tackles with a team-leading two quarterback hurries. As a unit, the Jets had six quarterback hurries, but it wasn’t enough to curtail the Bills’ offense.

Williams’ group will face a tougher opponent in the Raiders on Sunday. Oakland produced 359 yards of offense in its Week 1 victory over Tennessee. And if you thought the Jets had issues stopping the run against the Bills’ LeSean McCoy, this week it’s Marshawn Lynch.

Stacking the box against Lynch wouldn’t be helpful, given quarterback Derek Carr’s ability to get the ball downfield to talented receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. And just getting to Carr is difficult because of his quick release.

In reality, the Raiders have so many weapons.

“That’s the problem they pose because with 24 [Lynch] back, what’s amazing with him, coming back from the layoff, is that we actually think he’s running better than he was before he left,” Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said. “And then with the receivers, Cooper is definitely dangerous with moving the chains and you know from studying them from last year, he’s kind of the go-to guy. Then you look at Crabtree on the other side. What poses a lot of problems with these guys is the run after catch. They catch the short routes and turn them into extremely long plays, so they’re very dangerous. Then you mix in [Jared] Cook, the tight end, who can stretch you. They pose a lot of matchup problems.”

Williams hopes he’s part of the solutions.

After the loss in Buffalo, Bowles focused on his defensive linemen to make sure they understand what’s being asked of them. He’s going to need this unit heavily on Sunday.

“I think it was good that we got challenged by our coach,” Williams said. “It helped us focus on the small details and helped us rally together and work harder throughout the week and put in all preparation. It’s a great offense we’re about to be facing on Sunday, and we needed that little booster to motivate us. We’re already pretty motivated and we want to win every game, but to have a coach call you out, you definitely want to come out and play a lot harder the next week.”

New York Sports