Quinnen Williams’ ‘old-school’ attitude an example for Jets teammates

When Quinnen Williams stayed down on the turf at MetLife Stadium after the first play of the second half Sunday, he looked like a player who had taken his last snap of the game.

Williams was clearly in pain with a shoulder injury that forced him to head straight to the locker room and the Jets were on their way to another loss that would officially eliminate them from playoff contention for the 11th straight year.

But the defensive tackle said his decision to return to the game was never much of a decision at all once it was in his hands. His coaches were appreciative of that mindset, not just for his impact on the field but for the message it sent to the rest of the team as it tries to reverse its losing ways.

“Laying on the ground, I really knew something was bad or something could potentially be bad, just the feeling I was getting or the pain I was getting,” Williams, who got back on the field later in the third quarter, said Monday. “[But] I knew I had a big role and a big opportunity to do my job to the best of my ability for Sheldon Rankins and the defensive line room and just the team in general.

“The first thing in my head was like, ‘Yo, I gotta finish this game. I gotta finish this season off strong, give us an opportunity to win football games.’”

The Jets' Quinnen Williams, center, lines up during the first half of a game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J.
Quinnen Williams

The Jets did not win, eventually falling to the Saints 30-9 in a loss that dropped them to 3-10 on the season.

But as they preach that they are building something for the future in the midst of all the losing, having their best player gut out the rest of a mostly meaningless game after returning from an injury showed the kind of mentality that the Jets believe it will take to turn things around.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Quinnen did [play through it],” coach Robert Saleh said. “I look at Quinnen as an old-school type player in terms of just the grind and the importance and the desire to be on the football field, not only for himself but for his teammates. Just seems like this new age, they’re not built like him and it’s much appreciated for him to show that, because at the end of the day, teams that win championships have a bunch of those guys on their roster and it was good for him to show up.”

The Jets’ offseason challenge will be finding more players like Williams and linebacker C.J. Mosley to actually make that happen.

In the meantime, Williams underwent an MRI on Monday, and while he could be limited in practice this week ahead of Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, he expects to be able to play through the injury across the final four games of the season.

Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich acknowledged that with the Jets’ situation, many veteran or established players in Williams’ situation would have taken the opportunity to protect themselves. The former No. 3 pick could have included himself in that bunch, especially since he will become eligible for his first contract extension after this season, but Williams said it was important to show he could push through pain.

“Just validates everything I thought about him,” Ulbrich said. “He’s going to be a big reason that we turn this thing around.”

In the shorter term, Williams hopes to help the Jets solve their defensive woes over the final four games of the season. Their run defense that has often been gashed this season showed some signs of improvement against the run-heavy Saints on Sunday before Taysom Hill’s late 44-yard touchdown run left a sour taste.

“We just gotta continue to be consistent and execute every single play,” Williams said. “If we can control those two or three explosives that happened, especially towards the end of the game, I feel like we can potentially be a great defense.”

source: nypost.com