It's possible, considering the start to his pro career — third-round pick by Jacksonville in 2019, waived two years later — and perhaps initially being overshadowed on the Jets by his kid brother Quinnen, Quincy Williams had to convince people inside and outside the NFL how good he really was.
But Quincy didn't have to convince himself. He's believed for a long time.
"The key has been starting out fast," Williams told Eric Allen on this week's Official Jets Podcast. "My biggest thing during the offseason was how can I get an extra edge, put it all together. I had a serious meeting with myself."
Around that time, the team began negotiations with Williams' representation about a contract extension. He admitted he began listening to "the noise" from media and fans, about the players they thought were better than him and how much of a financial bump he should get to stay put with the Jets.
And when the deal was done in March, Quincy invited a select group of advisers in, such as Quinnen, C.J. Mosley, the team nutritionist, and of course his coaches, one of whom is LBs coach Miken Rutenberg.
"Me and Rudy had serious conversations, like, 'All right, we know you're coming here, what are you going to bring to the team now?' " Williams recalled. "So all right, it's time to take an extra step."'
The steps Williams has taken been unmistakable and relentless. The signature play of his first half-dozen games this season was his chase-down strip-sack of Russell Wilson that turned a potential nail-biter of a finish into Bryce Hall's victory-cementing 39-yard fumble-return touchdown at Denver.
But Williams has not been only one play's worth of quality — Quincy's quantity has been crazy good as well. Starting strong as he promised, he's racked up 60 tackles (10 per game, of course), two sacks (both on that same drive vs. the Broncos), four QB hits and four pass defenses (all in coverage).
He's the only NFL defender, never mind position, to have reached 60-2-4-4 in those categories through the first seven weeks, even including all the defenders who have played seven games instead of getting a bye week as Quincy and the Jets did on Sunday. The only ones in the immediate neighborhood with Williams are 49ers LB Fred Warner and Ravens LB Patrick Queen.
If we drop out the QB hits and look for all players in the past 25 seasons to reach those other benchmarks, Williams finds himself in excellent company with five other all-around players. These are the only six defensive players, since 1998, with at least 60 tackles, two sacks and four PDs through seven weeks of a season (all are LBs except S Rodney Harrison. Played in 6 games in first 7 weeks; source: statspass.com):
Williams swears the numbers aren't what send him into overdrive.
"In the back of my mind, every game, every practice, showing people that I'm the best linebacker in the league — that was my mindset," he said. I was not really proving anybody wrong but just proving myself right, like I know for a fact that I'm the best linebacker.
"I want my stamp," he said simply yet forcefully. "This many tackles, that many tackles, I don't care about none of that. I just want my stamp in this league. Right now I'm getting recognition and stuff like that. I'm still not done, though. That's my mindset: I'm not done."
Williams may not be taken by his numbers, but for those who are, consider that if he goes all 17 games this regular season, his defensive line will read something like 170 tackles, five or six sacks, 11 QB hits, 11 pass defenses, four forced fumbles ... statistics that will put him deep into the conversation when Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams get assembled in two-plus months.
See the best photos of the Jets defense through Week 6 of the 2023 NFL season.