It's a sure sign that a player has arrived when his team's reporters get him in a group interview and pepper him with questions, but not about his play but rather about his teammates and his team.
In that sense, Quinnen Williams has arrived. And "Q" had a lot to say about the players who have helped him and the Jets rise to 6-3, a half-game behind first-place Buffalo, as they enter their Week 10 "rest period for your body and not your mind."
"Just to be able to win football games is huge in general because every single team is good, every single player is good," Williams said on a video conference call today at the start of the Jets' bye week. "So just to win games is an amazing thing for me, an amazing thing for this team. It's super-hard to do, so it's just a pat on the back for us.
"I feel like I'm just another piece in the puzzle. We've got amazing guys who are huge parts of it — C.J. Mosley, D.J. Reed, Sauce Gardner. Those three guys are like 'the trio' to me because they make some unbelievable plays and C.J. gives unbelievable calls and alerts on the field to put us in position on all levels to win. Without those three guys, I don't know what our defense would be."
As effusive and heartfelt as his praise is for others, so is others' admiration for the fourth-year defensive lineman. After the 20-17 triumph over those Bills at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, fellow lineman John Franklin-Meyers was the latest to speak up about the powerful force that the "new Q" has become.
"You see him and you kind of understand, 'Defense goes if he goes,' " Franklin-Myers said. "You see how he's playing at an All-Pro level and he makes the team better. With him, the sky's the limit and we all just want to play off him and help him be great."
Even though Williams wasn't asked about his numbers because they're so old-hat by now, his key metrics continue to trend skyward:
■ His third-quarter sack of Josh Allen was his seventh of the season, all in the last eight games, tying his career-best of seven set in 2020 and with eight games to go to set a new personal best. Those seven sacks are tied for seventh-most in the NFL after nine weeks.
■ Quinnen's 17 QB hits are equally impressive. The total is fourth among the league's defenders. (Carl Lawson is fifth at 16.) And he's applied at least one QBH in each of the last eight games, an in-season streak that only one Jet has topped since 2001, when Muhammad Wilkerson had a 16-game streak, a full season, of hits in 2015.
■ Williams has 30 QB pressures, tied for 13th in the league, according to Next Gen Stats. (Lawson's tied for fifth with 33 pressures.)
But he said that's not nearly enough for anyone, even himself, if the Jets are to continue to apply their resurgent defense, to the Patriots in Foxboro, MA, after the bye and to the seven more regular-season opponents to follow.
"I always tell people, stay engaged, watch football, learn what you can do differently in this second go-round," Williams, the voice of veteran wisdom, said about this season's bye. "We have a lot of learning we can do to make ourselves better, especially me, for sure. I've got a lot of learning I could do to make myself better for this second go-around.
"That was the biggest message from me to the young guys. Learn what you can do better from this first half and do it different, learn what you did good from this first half and make sure you can do it even better when you come back. Never stay stagnant and never go down."
And never forget to follow the leader.