COMMENTARY | When the Buffalo Bills signed Mario Williams to the 6-year, $96-million contract, the expectation was that he would come to town and put up numbers worthy of the highest paid contract for a defensive player in NFL history.
While he recored 10.5 sacks in his first year in Buffalo, fans were still wondering just when the Williams who can single-handled take over a game for the Bills would show up. Sure, he had a couple good games last year, but none that made you go "Wow! That's what he's capable of."
On Sunday, September 15, Williams finally had that game for the Bills.
With 6 tackles, countless pressures on quarterback Cam Newton and a franchise record 4.5 sacks against the Carolina Panthers, Williams finally showed Bills fans everywhere exactly what he was capable of. He took advantage of a lesser opponent in Panthers tackle Byron Bell, and made his mark all afternoon long.
What is more impressive than the fact that Williams got the sacks that he did is the manner in which he got the sacks. Coming from the three-point stance, Williams used his size, speed and personal techniques to blow by whoever was matching up against him all afternoon long.
In his first sack of the game, Williams used his brute strength to push Bell back to the QB. Because of that, Newton was forced to move up in the pocket where then ran into his own lineman and fell. Williams was the first to touch him when he fell, thus getting credit for the sack.
Williams' second of the game was his first in which he actually took down Newton on the play. And he did it while showcasing his ability to change speed and pursue a runner.
After the snap, Williams uses a stutter step to throw off Bell on the block. After the move, Williams then uses his speed to get around Bell, chase down a scrambling Newton and bring him down for a five-yard loss.
Sack number three on the afternoon came with Williams being the beneficiary of a safety taking away a man.
Safety Da'Norris Searcy was in the box and was set to blitz. Once the ball was snapped, the Panthers were forced to scrap their plan of double-teaming Williams with the fullback Mike Tolbert. Instead, Tolbert ended up having to pick up the blitzing Searcy, which allowed Williams to go one-on-one with Bell again.
Searcy's rushing forced Newton to once again move up in the pocket which gave Williams easy access for the takedown.
On his split sack with DT Marcell Dareus, Williams simply uses his pure speed to beat Bell and force Newton up in the pocket. With Newton having nowhere to go because of Dareus, Williams was able to simply pounce on him from behind for the sack.
While nothing special, Williams' fourth credited sack came after Newton was forced out of the pocket by the Bills, and Williams chased him down. Williams' closing ability forced Newton to get to the sideline and step out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage.
It's only two games into his second season with the Bills, but Williams has shown an effort this season that many didn't see from him a year ago.
He's using moves to get around tackles, he's using his strength to push guys back and he's opening up lanes for other players to get into the backfield like the aforementioned Searcy on September 8 against New England.
It's a nice sight to see for Bills fans who have been waiting since he first donned the red, white and blue in 2012. If this is a sign of things to come in 2013, the Bills defense could be a force to be reckoned with.
Michael Straw is a freelance sports writer in Buffalo, NY and has covered the Buffalo Bills for the past three seasons. For Bills and more sports news, follow Michael on Twitter @TheMikeStraw.
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