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Quincy Williams Named Jets 2023 Curtis Martin Team MVP

Jets Fifth-Year Linebacker Determined to ‘Maximize’ His Opportunity After Logging Career-Highs for Tackles and Tackles for Loss This Season 

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After signing a three-year extension last March, Jets LB Quincy Williams headed into the offseason determined to "maximize" his opportunity. He spent the summer devising a plan to become one of NFL's elite linebackers.

"When I signed my extension, I had to figure out how I could make the most of this moment," Williams said. "So, I took everything I heard from all of the other coaches, players and teams and I wrote it down. And then I wrote down all the linebackers that people thought were better than me and decided I want to be the No. 1 linebacker this season. Every day I had a plan to maximize my opportunity."

And his plan came to fruition. In 2023, Williams had the best season of his career and was named the 2023 Curtis Martin Team MVP. Williams is the sixth consecutive defensive player to win the award and joins his brother Quinnen Williams, who won last season, as a recipient.

"I came into this year thinking, 'OK, your rookie contract is over, you were battling for a new contract and now you got it. Now, how do you prove you deserved this new contract?' " said the fifth-year linebacker said. "And looking back I wondered, what did I do in the past, with the rookie contract, and how did I make the best out of it? I was determined to take a step forward."

Much like his patented upper-cut celebration, Quincy Williams swung into the season quickly and violently earning AFC Defensive Player of the Month for October. Over the four games in the month, Williams accounted for 45 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, 4 QB hits and a forced fumbled.

In the Jets 31-21 win against the Broncos in Week 5 (Oct. 8), Williams played arguably his best game as a pro with 9 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 tackle for loss, 3 QB hits and a forced fumble that CB Bryce Hall returned for a game-sealing touchdown. With the Jets ahead, 24-21, late in the fourth quarter, Williams blitzed off the left edge, chased down Denver QB Russell Wilson and punched the ball from his left hand.

"I couldn't be prouder of him and his hard work," Jets captain C.J. Mosley said. "He is one of the fastest linebackers in the league and I always try to ask him: 'Do you watch your cheetah videos in the morning or before games? Do you ever see a cheetah just run as soon as it sees its prey?' Nah, he is calculating every single step, he is trying to see which way he is going, and as soon as he sees that spot, he is hunting this season."

See some of the best images of the 2023 Curtis Martin Team MVP.

With one game left on the schedule, a Week 18 bout with the Patriots, Williams has registered a career-high 131 tackles – 14th most in the NFL – and 15 tackles for loss – 13th most league. In addition, he is second among linebackers with 10 pass defenses and has the 10th highest pass coverage grade according to Pro Football Focus.

"I'm so proud of him," HC Robert Saleh said. "You talk about the players that get thrown away and they try to find their way. He stuck to it, kept his head down, kept working and he's found his way and we're very fortunate that we have him."

The Jaguars selected Williams out of Murray State in the third round (No. 98) of the 2019 NFL Draft. And after HC Doug Marrone, who drafted Williams in Jacksonville, was fired in 2020, Williams was cut after training camp in 2021 and claimed by Jets off waivers before the season.

Unshaken by the setback, he arrived in New York determined to prove his worth. He leaned on the memory of his mother, who died in 2010 after a battle with breast cancer, asking her for advice and using their conversations as a time to reflect.

"These are the questions I am talking to myself about and asking my mom," Williams said. "I have these moments where I am just sitting there having a conversation with her and trying to make the best out of my situation. I am asking the questions that she would ask me if she was here."

Now, in his third season playing alongside Mosley, an All-Pro defender, he and the Jets' defensive captain have developed into one of the league's best linebacker tandems. The duo spent last offseason training together and Williams feels that Mosley's guidance is big reason for his leap this year.

"This offseason I met with a couple of people, bettering myself, and taking constructive criticism and I mainly did a lot of work with C.J. Mosley," Williams said. "I really talked to him about how he becomes an All-Pro. How does he start fast in the games? This offseason, I worked out a lot with him a lot and did a lot of DB drills, I know my coverage was where I was weak at, so focused on that."

Mosley added: "The approach that he took this offseason and pretty much since he has got here, he has just been getting better. Just learning the defense, understanding how the offense is trying to attack us and understanding his job. Not only that, now he is at the point where he is understanding the other 10 positions, which can make your job a lot easier."

Team awards for Woody

Six other team awards were also announced Friday:

Aaron Rodgers– Dennis Byrd/Most Inspirational
Aaron Rodgers, a captain in his first season, had his year cut short after sustaining a torn Achilles tendon just four plays into the regular-season opener. Despite the setback, he still managed to be a veteran leader and his dedication to his rehab inspired his teammates.

The four-time MVP underwent surgery on his ruptured Achilles tendon on Sept. 13 and was placed on injured reserve in Week 2. The future Hall of Famer rejoined the team in Week 12 and was seen playing catch on field before the Jets Week 6 game against the Eagles. Then, just 12 weeks after surgery, on Nov. 29, the Jets opened his 21-day practice window and he was later added to the active roster on Dec. 20.

"He wanted to be here," HC Robert Saleh said. "I think he's sacrificed so much already for the organization and himself and his teammates and he's doing it again. I think it's a testament to who he is as a human. Yeah, obviously, there's a little bit of that drive where he wants to prove that it can be done faster than anyone's ever done before. That's OK. That is just part of his mental makeup. I think he still runs with a chip on his shoulder and that's the way he lives his life where he always wants to prove people wrong, in terms of doubting him and he's a special human. I think his actions are showing and how much he appreciates this organization and everything around it.

He is the first QB to win the award since Chad Pennington in 2007 and just the second offensive player since Hall of Fame RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who won back-to-back in 2010-11.

Tyler Conklin – Kyle Clifton/Good Guy
Tyler Conklin was a leader on and off the field for the Jets this season and posted career-best receiving numbers in his second season with New York. The veteran tight end registered a career-high 605 receiving yards in 16 games and is 3 catches shy of his career-high for receptions (59) with one game remaining. In addition, Conklin continued to be an iron man for the Green & White playing in all 16 games this year and every game since he signed with New York in 2022.

He is the first player on offense to win the Good Guy Award outright since QB Josh McCown in 2017, and the first TE to earn the honor since Zach Sudfeld in 2014.

Justin Hardee – Marty Lyons/Community Service
This fall, Justin Hardee continued to run the Hardee Cares Charities, which focuses on supporting youth empowerment, education, fitness through sports and sarcoidosis awareness -- a lung and immune disease that claimed the life of his mother Estella Perryman in 2013. Hardee's mother is a driving force behind his dedication to football and the community.

In Week 3, Hardee, who earned NFLPA All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors last season, was named the Week 3 NFLPA Community MVP after he donated $5,000 worth of school supplies to more than 150 at-risk youth at the Boys & Girls Club of Newark. In August, he hosted another giveaway in his hometown of Cleveland, where he provided 200-plus backpacks to local children and helped them youth get ready for the school year by offering free haircuts.

"I'm truly honored to be recognized as the NFLPA Community MVP," Hardee said. "When I was younger, I always told myself if I was to ever make it, that I would come back and be a bridge builder to the youth."

He is the first Jets special teamer to win the Marty Lyons Community Service Award since Lyons was first presented it in 1990, and the fifth consecutive Jets defensive player to earn the honor.

Breece Hall – Ed Block Courage/Most Courageous Player
Breece Hall overcame a torn ACL he sustained in Week 7 of last season, his rookie year, and returned to the field in time for the season-opener against Buffalo where he rushed for 127 yards on 10 carries. He has continued to progress throughout the season and improve upon a strong rookie year.

In 16 games, Hall has registered 1,395 scrimmage yards, the most scrimmage yards by Jets player since Brandon Marshall (1,502) in 2015, and 8 total touchdowns. On the ground he's rushed for 816 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and 4 scores. He leads all running backs in receiving yards (579) and is second in receptions (74).

"I worked my ass off this offseason to comeback and I expect to be one of best players in the league," Hall said, referring to the ACL injury. "I don't feel like I could really show that the whole season, so I tell everyone to get their laughs out now, because in the near future we are going to be a lot better. I am excited to see what we do."

He is the first running back to receive the award since Bilal Powell in 2019 and joins Freeman McNeil in 1990 and Hall of Famer Curtis Martin in 2001 as the only backs to win.

Xavier Gipson – Bill Hampton/Rookie Who Acts Like Pro
Xavier Gipson, an undrafted free agent signed last April, burst onto the scene in his first game scoring a game-winning punt return touchdown in overtime of the season-opener against Buffalo. He won over fans during training camp after being featured on HBO Max's "Hard Knocks" documentary series and eventually the coaches by earning a spot on the 53-man roster.

Since the epic punt return, Gipson has progressed into an all-purpose weapon on offense increasing his snap count nearly every week since Week 1. In 16 games (2 starts), Gipson has totaled 22 receptions, 293 scrimmage yards and 2 total touchdowns.

He is the fourth consecutive Jets rookie wide receiver to earn this honor, named after the Jets' longtime equipment manager, joining most recent winners Denzel Mims (2020), Elijah Moore (2021) and Garrett Wilson (2022).

C.J. Mosley – Selfless Warrior
In the second year of this award, C.J. Mosley, a captain and defensive anchor for the Jets, won the honor for his continued leadership and guidance of one of the league's top-rated defenses. Coming off a second-team All-Pro selection last year, Mosley leads the Jets with 145 tackles paired with 5 tackles for loss, 7 pass defenses and 2 forced fumbles.

Mosley, who was the Dennis Byrd Award winner for the Jets most inspirational player last season, has been named a Jets captain in 2019, his first season with the team, 2021, 2022 and 2023. He joins Duane Brown as the award's only other recipients.

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