Quinnen Williams embraces Jets' rematch with Patriots' Mac Jones, former Alabama teammate

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Mac Jones Jets cropped 9/19/2021
Mac Jones Jets cropped 9/19/2021

Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones overlapped at Alabama from 2017-18 when the two played for the Crimson Tide. For the second time in their NFL careers, they face each other Sunday at 1 p.m. from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., where the Jets (1-4) and Patriots (2-4) face off.

Jones, the 2021 NFL Draft's No. 15 overall pick, got the best of Williams last time around. The Jets lost 25-6 to the Patriots Sept. 19 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., where Jones completed 22 of 30 passes (73.3%) for 186 yards.

Williams, whom the Patriots contained to the tune of two tackles (one for loss) in the Week 2 game, embraces the rematch. He also opened up on what his former Alabama teammate -- who has completed 150 of 211 passes (71.1%) for 1,472 yards and seven touchdowns against six interceptions through the Patriots' first six games -- brings to the table.

"I was there two years with him," Williams said Friday. "I think he's playing amazing, man. Even when he was coming out of college, man, the growth that I'd seen from him -- like, when I was there, he was on scout team and he was just like a regular quarterback, you know what I'm saying? Regular quarterback.

"As I got to the NFL, he went on to be the starting quarterback, different things like that. Even the NFL, man, he does a great job of putting the ball where it's supposed to go -- throwing it to his check downs, making his reads and different stuff like that.

"Watched the Dallas (Cowboys) game he played in (a 35-29 Patriots overtime loss last Sunday). He got hit a couple of times, but still stood tall in the pocket and different stuff like that. So when you see a quarterback like that, man, he's just going to be a good player when it comes down to over the years and different stuff like that."

Jones was a backup for the Tide from 2017-19 before he stepped up with his breakout 2020 season, completing 311 of 402 passes (77.4%) for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns to four interceptions in 13 games. Alabama went a perfect 13-0, winning the College Football Playoff National Championship with a 52-24 rout of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Williams, meanwhile, starred for the Tide from 2017-18, including a next-level third-year sophomore season in 2018. After totaling 70 tackles (18.5 for loss), seven sacks and one pass deflection in 15 games, the Jets selected Williams with the 2019 NFL Draft's No. 2 overall pick.

For his first two NFL seasons from 2019-20, Williams racked up 83 tackles (14 for loss), 9.5 sacks (20 quarterback hits), four pass deflections and two forced fumbles in 26 games (22 starts). Through five games in 2021, Williams has tallied 18 tackles (three for loss) and 3.5 sacks (eight quarterback hits).