Quinnen Williams of the Jets reacts after sacking Josh Allen...

Quinnen Williams of the Jets reacts after sacking Josh Allen of the Bills during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 25. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Jets are in need of another roster overhaul after this dreadful season, but they have a major foundational piece right in the center of their defense.

Nose tackle Quinnen Williams has shown he can anchor the line in his second NFL season. Jets general manager Joe Douglas just has to make sure he puts the right pieces around Williams so he can be a real game-wrecker.

"He’s just a splash play waiting to happen," Jets interim defensive coordinator Frank Bush said.

Williams has had his moments and blown up his share of plays this season. He leads the Jets with six sacks, 13 quarterback hits and nine tackles for loss. When your team is 0-13, those numbers and plays don’t get that much recognition.

But the Jets see Williams, the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft, as someone who is just starting to ascend.

"The kid’s got tremendous potential," Bush said. "He’s one of the few guys of that size that plays inside and he’s what I call slippery for a big guy. He’s got quick feet. He’s got good hips and he’s slippery inside.

"Sometimes he does things from a big guy standpoint that you just don’t see from other people. That’s what made him a high pick and a coveted player. He’s got a knack for things inside. The more he learns the game, I think he’s going to be a force."

When the Jets play the Rams on Sunday, they will have to try to contain the most dominant interior defensive lineman in football — Aaron Donald. Good luck with that.

Williams has drawn comparisons to Donald because they play the same position. But they’re two different players with different strengths. Williams is bigger, but Donald is quicker, stronger and far more disruptive.

Donald has won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award twice and is a candidate again this season. He leads the NFL with 12.5 sacks, despite facing double-teams nearly every snap he’s on the field.

The Jets hope Williams can become a Donald-type of presence on the interior, but they don’t want to put that comparison on him. They just want him to keep working and improving.

"I think it’s real hard to compare anyone to Aaron Donald right now," Jets coach Adam Gase said. "I don’t think it’s fair to Quinnen in that aspect. Quinnen is a young player and he has some moments where it’s impressive. I think what makes Aaron Donald Aaron Donald is that consistency of if you do not double team him, he is getting to the ball carrier or getting to the quarterback. He changes the game so much

"I’m sure every D-tackle is trying to get to that point, especially guys that have similar skill sets of length, quickness, strength, things like that. They’re like, "Hey, I want to be like that guy.’"

Even before he got to the NFL, Williams studied tape of impactful interior lineman, including Donald, Kansas City’s Chris Jones and Indianapolis’ DeForest Buckner. Williams still watches film of the more established players to see if he can pick up tips on how they get off and their counter moves.

"I just focus on dominating my box every play, just trying to win every single play I ever play," Williams told the Jets official website. "If you dominate your box and win every play, you're going to be successful in whatever you do."

Williams wasn’t happy with his performance as rookie. He was slowed by an ankle injury and had just 2.5 sacks in 13 games. Williams spent the offseason working on his mind and body. He did a lot of self-evaluating and changed his diet and workout regimen.

Williams said he "reconstructed everything, every little aspect of his life" around playing football, so he could become more like the dominant player he was at Alabama. He has made marked improvements. So much so that Douglas rebuffed all offers for Williams at the trade deadline.

That was a sharp move that should help the Jets going forward, especially as Williams gains more experience playing his position and knowledge of the offenses he will try to disrupt.

"What we’ve seen this year more than last year, he’s able to finish things," Bush said. "Last year, he’d start out and he didn’t quite understand some schemes. Now not only does he understand them, he knows how to fit himself into the play and finish the play.

"He’s stronger, more aware of what’s going on, he understands schemes better, he studies the games better. He’s more mature than what we he was, and you see those things when he plays."

Roster moves

The Jets activated kicker Sam Ficken from IR and elevated defensive lineman Tanzel Smart and linebackers Sharif Finch and Noah Dawkins to the active roster from the practice squad.

More Jets


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