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Quinnen Williams struggling to put up stats in rookie season for Jets

Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams tries to tackle

Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams tries to tackle Patirots running back James White on Oct. 21. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Quinnen Williams is getting a lot of attention on the field and off of it.

The Jets rookie defensive tackle is being double-teamed on game day and questioned during the week about where his production has been.

The truth is Williams hasn’t had the statistical impact anyone expected when the Jets used the No. 3 pick on the interior lineman from Alabama who had been compared to Aaron Donald of the Rams.

Williams has just 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss this season. The past two games, he’s had no solo tackles and one assist in 89 snaps. Williams isn’t concerned, and neither are his coaches.

“He’s doing his job,” coach Adam Gase said Thursday. “He’s making sure he’s handling his gap. He’s being physical, he’s trying to stalemate or get movement and pushback, getting other guys free in the pass-rush game.

“We would all love for 10 sacks and all these TFLs [tackles for loss]. Sometimes it doesn’t work out like that. As long as he’s doing his job and coaches are happy with him, that’s what he’s looking to do.”

It sounds like some of the things that were said about Leonard Williams, a No. 6 pick from USC who never lived up to the hype and was traded to the Giants last month.

The Jets can’t afford to go down that road again with Quinnen Williams, but they are two different people and play two different positions. Leonard is a defensive end. The sacks never came for him, though.

It’s probably too soon to panic over Quinnen Williams' lack of production.

“He’s a young player, he’s still learning,” Gase said. “He’ll find his way to be an impactful player. It just hasn’t happened for him exactly yet the last couple of games. He’ll just keep working and he’ll figure out a way to be a big part of what we’re doing.”

Williams' hasn't measured up yet to some players from his draft class. Nick Bosa, the No. 2 pick, has seven sacks with the 49ers. Josh Allen, who was taken seventh by Jacksonville, leads all rookies with eight sacks.

It's only natural that Williams will be compared to them. But they're defensive ends, coming off the edge. Williams’ defense is they play different positions.

“I play defensive tackle,” Williams said. “They play defensive end. We can’t get compared. It would be crazy for anybody to compare us because we do different things, different schemes, different jobs, different side of the country. You can’t really compare us.”

Williams could be a late bloomer like he was in Alabama. He didn’t become a starter until he was a junior and won the Outland Trophy as nation’s best interior lineman.

The stats may not show it, but Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Williams is a main reason the Jets have the NFL’s No. 1 run defense. Sounds like Williams could be in for some more double teams this Sunday when the Jets play Oakland.

“They’re the No. 1 rushing defense in football and he’s the reason why,” Gruden said on a conference call. “He’s healthy and moving around much better than he did earlier in the season.

“There’s a lot of stuff you got to learn in your first year in the NFL, especially when you play for Gregg Williams. It looks like he’s playing with a lot more confidence, energy. He’s a force in there. It’ll be a challenge for us.”

Williams suffered an ankle injury in his NFL debut and missed two games. He said that didn’t slow his development. Williams learned from watching, and he believes he’s continuing to get better — even if the stats aren’t there.

“I’m really not looking at that. I make sure I do my job,” Williams said. “I could go in the game and have zero tackles, zero sacks but every play I dominated my block, every snap I dominated my man in front of me. I’ll be good with that.”

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