Rumors fly at this time of year during this kind of season. But Jets Head Coach Adam Gase left no doubt about what he thinks of any rumors about defensive lineman Quinnen Williams being on the move.
"Those are false," Gase said flatly about trade speculation regarding Williams, last year's first-round selection who keeps showing flashes of his big-play potential. "I talked to Quinnen. I have not heard one thing come from anybody in the front office about him being traded. I know [GM] Joe [Douglas] talked to Quinnen, talked to his agent.
"There's nothing to that. It's false."
What is true is what Gase is seeing from "Q" at games and on video. Williams entered this past Sunday's game against Buffalo unofficially leading the defense with 6.5 tackles for loss/no gain on runs and passes.
Then he had a fourth-quarter sack of Josh Allen, a third-down takedown that forced the Bills to settle for their fifth field goal. That was his team-leading third sack of the season. He added two more QB hits on Allen for five on the season.
Unfortunately, on one of the QB hits on Allen, Williams was flagged for roughing the passer — his fourth personal foul of the season. But Gase addressed all of that when he was asked what he's observed in the former Alabama star's recent play.
"There's been some times where I really see him show up," the coach said. "And it's the consistency of down in, down out, max effort and playmaking ability, finishing the plays, not having roughing the passer — that's the maturation of a young player, too. It's understanding why [Rams All-Pro DL] Aaron Donald is who he is, because that guy is zero-to-100 every play from Play 1 to the end of the game."
Gase said that Williams shows those tendencies "a lot the times, and we just have to get everything we can out of him, in that aspect of understanding how to play the game for 60 minutes.
"I think he's getting close to that because he's showing up, he's making some big plays in some critical moments, he's defeating blocks in short-yardage situations, making tackles in the backfield, finding ways to disrupt the passer," Gase said. "We just have to make sure we don't hit the guy in the head. We've got to lower our strike zone, bend our knees and just don't hit him in the head, and we'll have good plays."
The maturation of the Jets' D-line shouldn't be too far behind. Average seasons of experience declined with the trade of Steve McLendon to Tampa Bay, and when Kyle Phillips went on Injured Reserve on Wednesday.
But Henry Anderson still brings his veteran presence, while Folorunso Fatukasi has stepped in on the nose. John Franklin-Myers has been supplying QB hits and, on Sunday, a nose for the loose ball, and rookie free-agent Bryce Huff has had some great reads and plays, such as his tackle of Isaiah McKenzie on an end-around for an 11-yard loss. And third-round rookie Jabari Zuniga, out since training camp with a quad injury, has been practicing and has been activated from IR.
That scouting report on the Green & White DL is no guarantee of success at Kansas City against QB Patrick Mahomes, about whom Gase said "he's phenomenal ... it just seems this game is way too easy for him, from what I've seen." But also from what Gase has seen, he has a young D-lineman who's "showing up" more and more and will be needed big-time at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.