It's been quite a headlong rush into the regular season for Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. He was focused intently on getting up to speed from the foot injury he was rehabbing all offseason and much of the preseason. And then all of a sudden, he looks up and sees a face he's recognized since childhood.
"I found out the same day you guys found out," Williams told reporters after Thursday's practice about how on Sept. 1 he became teammates with his older brother, LB Quincy Williams. "Oh, it's super fun to get to play with my brother. I grew up with him, I know everything he can do, he knows everything I can do. Expectations since we were little kids, and the same expectations now. Holding each other accountable, just like everybody else on the team."
And yet Quinnen had an interesting take on why it's not as big a deal as it could have been that he's a DL starter and Quincy is an LB starter on the same Green & White defense.
"Me and him, we really downplay it because we're so focused on winning, doing our jobs, making plays on the field," Quinnen said. "Honestly, we don't say, 'Oh, brother, we're on the same team.' We could be on the same team getting our butts whupped. We really don't look at it that way. Every single team I've been on, everybody's been like my brother. Adding my real brother, when we go home, it's different, but when we're on the field, I feel like everybody's my brother."
That approach is crucial to the 0-2 Jets' band of brothers surviving and thriving a mile high on Sunday at 2-0 Denver. With Teddy Bridgewater (a Jets QB, fans will remember, for more than five months in 2018 until he was traded in late August to New Orleans) operating error-free and throwing the ball accurately and down the field, along with a strong running game, the Broncos offense is in the NFL's top 10 in many categories.
"Our mindset is getting better every single day, every single week," Williams said. "We don't look at our records, we look at our mistakes. As a defense we've got to get more turnovers, put our offense in better position to score points and win games. And you can't beat yourself in this league. You've got to minimize your mistakes, minimize your mental errors. You've got to go out there and make sure your A-game is 100 percent because there's another professional that's bigger, stronger, faster, on the other side of the ball."
Quinnen Williams, of course, is big (6-3, 303), strong and fast, too. But he's had a quiet first two games, just two QB hits in the opener, a late goal-line tackle for loss vs. the Patriots, and five tackles. That's all related to the slow progress the third-year man has made since needing surgery to fix a broken bone in his foot during offseason workouts. So he focused on his diet and conditioning with nutrition and training staffs, lost some weight, and went after his rehab hard but smart.
"I knew I wasn't going to be in OTAs or camp. I knew I basically had a challenge ahead of me. I was going to be behind when it comes to game shape because I didn't play in any preseason games," he said. "Definitely the first game I feel like I had to knock off a lot of rust when it comes down to intuition, instincts, quick-twitch-type stuff. But I feel good now on the field."
And it's not just Quinnen or Quincy, roommates for the time being, saying so. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich seconded that observation.
"You see consistent progress from Quinnen," Ulbrich said. "It is brutal for anybody to miss as much time as he did and then get thrown into the action. Was there rust? Yeah, he would admit to that. But he's starting to feel himself a little bit more. You're starting to see his confidence and swagger and that little gleam in his eye going forward."
And the gleam has a lot more to do with Quinnen, popping his head up from practice and video and preparing for the Panthers, Patriots and now the Broncos, saying, "Oh, dog! My real brother's on the team now."
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