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Quinnen Williams: Jets' D-Line Has Potential to 'Be Scary'

Veteran DT Eyes “Aaron Donald Level” After Tying for Team Lead in Sacks


The 2022 NFL season will be Quinnen Williams' fourth in the league and his second under head coach Robert Saleh, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich and defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton.

"In Year 2, I feel a huge difference in chemistry and willingness to win," Williams said when the Jets wrapped up June's sessions of OTAs and minicamp. "Everybody wants to be perfect in all we do. C.J. [Mosley] preaches that you can't be perfect, but you can get close to being perfect, and then we could be a pretty good football team. With every rep in practice, we want to be perfect."

Perfection is certainly an ideal, however, being strong, consistent and smart are usually good enough to succeed on any given Sunday. Now entering his fourth season with the Jets after being drafted No. 3 overall in 2019 out of Alabama, Williams finds himself surrounded by an ever-growing cast of co-stars on the defensive line.

General manager Joe Douglas, Ulbrich, Saleh and Whitecotton, who first crossed paths with the current head coach when the two were assistants with Jacksonville, have surrounded Williams with more talent to complement him and John Franklin-Myers. The two d-linemen shared the team lead last season with 6 sacks each (Williams has 15.5 in his NFL career).

See some of the best images of the 2022 Jets in uniform at the team's annual multimedia day held at 1 Jets Drive.

One of the men to watch -- closely -- will be DE Carl Lawson, who is coming back from a ruptured Achilles tendon that cost him the entire 2021 season. In free agency, the Jets signed Solomon Thomas and Jacob Martin, and also re-signed Vinny Curry. Then in the draft, the Jets moved back into the first round to pick Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson and then used their final selection in the 2022 NFL draft to take Texas A&M DE Micheal Clemons. Additional depth will come from players like Sheldon Rankins, Nathan Shepherd, Jonathan Marshall and Bryce Huff. It is a promising cast of characters that will likely take some of the pressure off Williams, who has often been the focus of the opposing offensive line.

"I think we could be potentially real good, but we have to keep stacking the days," Williams said. "I speak about it in the room, attention to details and stacking every day. Just because you had a good day on Monday, you can't slack off. Be consistent, pushing yourself every single day is a big thing. If I ran 18 miles an hour, tomorrow I'm trying to push myself to 19. We got some good players, some great players and if we get them to push, we'll be scary."

Last season, Williams dealt with a foot fracture that carried over from 2020, then finished the season with a nagging shoulder injury. All that said, he played in 15 games and took 59% of the defensive snaps, had 53 tackles (36 solo) and 12 QB hits.

"I think Quinnen is ready for a breakout year," said Damien Woody, a former Jets player and current ESPN analyst. "And with John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, [Sheldon] Rankins, this is a very, very deep room."

The Jets recently exercised their fifth-year option on Williams. Whatever the off-the-field situation, the on-the-field situation is clear cut.

"Last year I think I was a good player," he said. "But I want to take it to an elite level, an Aaron Donald level. Having these guys to push me, to help me to get there, that's one of my main goals. I want to be pushing myself every single day, trying to imitate game day every single day. I had a sit down with Coach Saleh and Whiteotton, talking about just getting better and attacking every day. I'm taking a wide-angle approach."

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