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Young Vet Quinnen Williams Likes the Cast Lined Up Alongside Him on Jets Defense

Starting His 4th NFL Season at 24 Years of Age, 'Q' Sees 'Huge Ceiling' for Himself & His D to Continue Growing


"24" was a TV action drama from 2001-10 starring Keifer Sutherland as Jack Bauer.

"24 Next Generation" could be a lighter Jets remake of that classic show, starring Quinnen Williams as, well, Quinnen Williams.

In Quinnen's case, 24 refers not to hours in a day but years in his life. Yes, the defensive lineman is about as young as you can be as you enter your fourth season in the NFL.

"It was kind of weird," Williams said with a smile as he told an anecdote about him being one of the Jets' wise old veterans now. "One of the rookies was like, 'I'm 24,' and I'm like, 'Whoa, I'm 24, too.' "

Q didn't name the rookie but it likely was one of his new D-line mates. Fourth-rounder Micheal Clemons played in 2016 at Cisco (TX) College before transferring to Texas A&M, where he spent five seasons, including a redshirt sophomore season in '18. That's the long road to the pros.

Quinnen took a shorter route, staying three seasons at Alabama, including a redshirt year, before being drafted by the Jets third overall in 2019. And wouldn't you know he and his brother, Quincy, a linebacker who's a year older, would team up on the Green & White early last season. Suddenly, against the drama of the season of youth and struggle and learning, a heartwarming family miniseries was in production.

"Nah, we never roomed together," Quinnen told reporters about his bro after Wednesday's OTA practice, although he added, "My wife wanted him to stay with us. She said he'd be saving money, stuff like that.

"But man, he's an alpha and I'm an alpha. You want your own space as an alpha. You want your own kingdom."

Which leads to the theme of this particular piece. Williams is still building his on-field kingdom with the Jets. It's come along slowly at times but with growth spurts hinting of great plot developments to come. And this offseason he's loving the cast of characters that he's working alongside.

There's MLB C.J. Mosley, a graybeard at 29 years of age and "one unbelievable leader." And fellow D-line veteran John Franklin-Myers, in his fifth year at 25: "Just having him on our team is a blessing to me. It doesn't matter where he lines up, he's going to dominate."

Then there's the free agency arrival of Solomon Thomas, 26 and starting his sixth pro season, which has piqued Williams' interest.

"When he was at San Francisco, he was a much smaller guy playing in this scheme, interior, exterior," he said of Thomas, who's listed at 295 pounds now but was a 6-3, 273-pound 49ers rookie in '17. "He brings a tremendous attribute to this team, especially in our defensive line room, when it comes down to the effort he gives, the strain he gives, the technique he uses. And he was there with DeForest Buckner, [Arik] Armstead, Nick Bosa and that 2019 defense at San Fran."

Williams intently watched that Niners show from 2017-20, coordinated of course by Robert Saleh. But he's an even bigger fan of what Saleh, GM Joe Douglas and the Jets football staffs and players are doing with his current unit.

"The defense can be as good as we take it," Williams said. "Every team that wins Super Bowls and stuff like that, they've got an unbelievable defense first and foremost. And on that defense they've got unbelievable leaders. And that's the main thing we're trying to develop. ... We're building camaraderie and chemistry. Just working every single day is going to get us to what we want to be as a defense."

And it will get Quinnen to where he wants to be as a player.

"I just want to be the best football player on the field that I can be and do the things I can to help this team win," he said. "I have a huge ceiling, man. I haven't reached the potential I feel I can reach yet. So I'm still feeling young."

And if this season plays out the way Williams wants, a change of the show's working title from "24" may be in order. Williams turns 25 in December.

See the Jets on the field during the second OTA practice of 2022.

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