We all should go through life appearing to be as joyful as Quinnen Williams does.
Go ahead and try to wipe the smile off the 22-year-old Jets defensive tackle’s face. Opposing offensive linemen have been trying to do it all season without a lot of luck.
Even his own team — the Jets are 0-8 this season after going 7-9 last year — is doing all it can to jar the joy from Williams, who went 27-2 in college at Alabama while the Crimson Tide won one national championship and finished runners-up in another.
Even at 0-8, Williams is still smiling.
Amid the rubble of this historically bad Jets season, Williams is getting better every day. He is growing, before our eyes, into one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
“I never wake up in a bad mood, because I’m blessed to be in this situation, to be on this team, to be in New York playing this game that I love,’’ Williams told The Post in a phone interview Thursday night after team meetings. “I love coming to work every single day. I really don’t have any negative things to say about anything.’’
The Jets should be doing all they can to keep the smile on Williams’ face, considering how perennial losing has broken the spirits of some of their top talent in recent years, leading to them being shipped out of town. (Most recent poster children: Jamal Adams and Leonard Williams.)
In the murky fog that this season has been for the Jets, Quinnen Williams has been a ray of light. He and rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton are the two most prominent players on the roster and should give Jets fans hope for a better future.
When Becton, who’s making a name for himself for tossing opposing defensive linemen to the ground like rag dolls, was asked about Williams on Thursday he said, “ ‘Q,’ that’s my big brother. I always tell him I can put him on his butt if I really want to. I can do whatever I want with him.’’
“He said that?’’ Williams said with a hearty laugh when Becton’s words were relayed to him. “He probably had a dream about that or something. He’s a great guy to go against every day. We make each other better.’’
That should be music to general manager Joe Douglas’ ears.
Williams, 6-foot-3, 303 pounds, and Becton, 6-7, 364, are ascending talents, the building-block foundation to the team Douglas is trying to construct.
Douglas traded Adams, the team’s 2017 first-round pick, earlier this season despite the fact Adams, like Williams, was the kind of player the Jets need to keep around.
In the end, Adams’ heralded leadership skills eroded into self-preservation as he became broken by the constant losing. He also became too full of himself. It became a toxic combo platter.
Douglas must make sure this doesn’t happen to Williams, who sat out practice Thursday to rehab the hamstring he pulled during Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs.
Jets coach Adam Gase called it a “wait-and-see’’ process on whether Williams will be able to play Monday night against the Patriots, but was quick to add, “I see him jumping in in walk-throughs. [He] doesn’t really want to hear, ‘Hey, you’re hurt.’ ’’
Asked what effect the losing has had on Williams after he went through only two defeats at Alabama, Gase said: “I feel like he’s handled everything very well. He’s such a positive kid. Like, you never see him really down.’’
In August, Williams boldly predicted he was going to be markedly better in 2020 than he had been in his rookie season, and he has backed that up.
“I feel like I’m tapped into that zone, tapped into that level that I’m going to be unstoppable,” Williams said in August. “I feel myself being that person that they drafted me to be … a dominant defensive tackle in the NFL.”
A year after putting up underwhelming numbers — 28 tackles, four for a loss, and three sacks in 13 games — Williams has 27 tackles, seven for a loss, and three sacks in eight games.
“He’s at the very top of our league as an interior guy [and] he’s only going to get better,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said last week.
“He’s evolving his game from college to the NFL [and] it takes time sometimes because the spacing is different, the athletes are different, the speed of the skill players are different. … I feel like you’re noticing him more and more every week,’’ Gase said.
“It’s my second year, and everything I did my first year I wanted to make sure I did better this year,’’ Williams said. “I try not to look at the wins and losses, I try to win every day, try to get better every day.’’
It’s happening. And it’s a beautiful thing to watch in a season sullied with too much ugliness.
Credit: Source link