FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Quinnen Williams changed his diet, workout regimen and just about everything else in his life and returned to the Jets leaner and hungry to show he can be the dominant player he was in college.
Williams said he a did a lot of self-evaluating after his rookie season. The No. 3 pick out of Alabama in 2019, Williams had just 2.5 sacks in 13 games and never had the impact that was expected of him. No one was more upset about that than Williams.
“I reconstructed everything, every little aspect of my life, around playing football this year,” Williams said after practice Wednesday.
The Jets could use a true disruptive pass-rushing presence, and Williams has stood out through the first five days of training camp because of how different he looks, and how often he’s getting in the offensive backfield.
Williams is down six pounds from last year, weighs 297 and credits his new trainer Don Somerville, who also worked with Le’Veon Bell. Williams said his body fat is “tremendously down” and his muscle mass is up, and he sounds ready for a breakout year.
“I’m feeling it, man,” Williams said. “I got my body right this offseason, I got my confidence back this offseason, I’ve got a trainer who’s been training my butt off. I’m in great shape, great condition, I got my body fat down. I’m rocking and rolling. I feel myself being that person that they drafted to be here to be. I feel like I’m coming into that person to be a dominant defensive tackle in the NFL.
“My training helped me build my confidence to get me back to the animal person that I want to become and that I am.”
At Alabama, Williams was so quick and disruptive as an interior lineman, he drew comparisons to Rams tackle Aaron Donald, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Williams had the usual rookie adjustment period that was slowed because of an early-season ankle injury. But Williams, to his credit, isn’t using the injury as an excuse.
Williams took full responsibility for his underwhelming rookie season, and said the mistakes he made last year won’t be duplicated.
“It was all on me,” Williams said. “It was all on the mistakes that I made. It was all on the things that I did wrong. Nothing really held me back but myself. My confidence is through the roof now. I’m going out here now like crazy, doing the things I was supposed to do last year, the things I was supposed to do right. Just reacting quicker, reacting faster, getting off the ball faster. I trained my butt off this offseason to be quicker, faster, stronger. You can see it on the field every day.
“The mistakes I made last year won’t be made this year.”
Williams made a mistake in the offseason when he was arrested at LaGuardia Airport for trying to carry an unregistered weapon onto an airplane. His court date was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Williams referred all questions to his lawyer, but he expressed remorse for what happened.
“You don’t ever want to have negative energy or negative statements or things come to the organization or to yourself,” Williams said. “But, unfortunately, I can’t speak on that matter.”
Williams’ coaches and teammates have noticed changes in him.
Adam Gase said Williams is just keeping his head down and working. Defensive line coach Andre Carter raved about Williams’ physical and mental transformation. Carter, who had a 13-year NFL career, said he can tell Williams isn’t overthinking things now. The two spoke a lot during the offseason, and Carter told Williams he had a similar start to his career.
“He told me his third year he tapped in and became a good player,” Williams said. “I’m like, ‘I can’t wait to my third year. I got to hit it now.’ I feel like I’ve tapped into that zone, I’ve tapped into that level that I’m going to be unstoppable. I’m going to get everything right this year.”