Heading into bye week, Jets' Quinnen Williams offers his thoughts on 6-3 start, defensive prowess

Quinnen Williams celebrates after sacking Aaron Rodgers cropped 10/16/22
Quinnen Williams celebrates after sacking Aaron Rodgers cropped 10/16/22

Like head coach Robert Saleh said earlier this week, even the most optimistic Jets fans wouldn’t have had this team at 6-3 heading into their Week 10 bye. And yet, that’s exactly where the Jets find themselves after stunning the vaunted Buffalo Bills, 20-17, at MetLife Stadium this past Sunday.

Now, with New York enjoying a week off before returning to action on Nov. 20 to take on the New England Patriots in a highly anticipated rematch, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams shared some thoughts on the team’s incredible start, the defense and even added some injury updates along the way.

“It means a lot to be in this position,” Williams said. “Just to be able to win football games is huge, in general, in this league because every single team is good, every single player in the NFL is good so just to win football games is amazing.

Winning always feels great, but it must feel especially satisfying for Williams who didn’t see much of it during his first three seasons in New York.

Now in his fourth year in the league, the Jets have one of the best defenses in the NFL and while Williams was bashful of his own prowess, saying he feels like he can take a backseat to some of the other stars on the team, he made sure to shout those players out.

“I just feel like I’m just another piece of the puzzle,” he said. “We got amazing guys who are huge parts of it. I always tell people C.J. Mosley, D.J. Reed, Sauce Gardner those three guys are like the trio to me, because they make some unbelievable plays.… Without those three guys I don’t know what our defense would be, for sure.”

That defense has really turned it on as of late, holding opponents to 20 points or fewer in five of the Jets’ last six games. Not surprisingly, New York is 5-1 in those games with the one loss coming against the Pats who scored 22 points.

But as the defense begins to get more and more praise, Williams tries his best to block out the noise.

“We got a lot more games left and it can go south real quick if you have that mindset of ‘I’m on top of the world, I’m this, I’m that’,” he said. “So nobody in our room has that mindset, we all gotta learn, we all gotta get better and we all gotta be consistent so we can become the defense that we want to be because I feel like we’re on the right path to become the defense that we want to be, but we’re not there just yet.”

Already a top-five defense, it almost sounds crazy that Williams and the Jets believe they can get even better. But with Saleh at the helm and a ton of playmakers all over the field that will continue to develop with one another as the season goes on, it actually doesn’t sound too far-fetched.

So how has New York gone from perennial bottom-feeder to defensive powerhouse in such a short amount of time? People and culture.

“His impact has been tremendous,” Williams said about Saleh. “He’s a head coach first and foremost and he’s an amazing leader. You gotta have an amazing leader to have an amazing team. The things that he gives us, he gives us tools to go fight with. I think the biggest thing is he’s just completely honest with us… Culture-wise I think it’s unbelievable.”

Even with fellow defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins out for the foreseeable future with an elbow injury, Williams touched on the next-man-up mentality that the Jets have shown all season and mentioned that the team has other “ballers” who can step up at any time.

“I heard from him, he’s not gonna be out for too, too long but he is going to be out for a little minute, so having a guy like that out is gonna be a huge loss,” Williams said about Rankins. “But we have guys in our room that are gonna step up like you’ve seen the past few weeks. Solomon Thomas and Nathan Shepherd have been balling every chance they get in the game and the plays that they get in the game.”

The good news for the Jets, who have experienced myriad injuries this season, is that they’ll get a week to rest and recover from any ailments that they might be facing.

However, Williams had a message for his teammates heading into their bye week.

“I always tell people stay engaged, stay engaged,” he said. “Watch football, learn what you can do different in this second go-around. We have a lot of learning we can do to make ourselves better, especially for me, for sure. I got a lot of learning I can do to make myself better this second go-around.… Use this bye week as a rest period for your body, not your mind.”