NFL

Williams leading sack-happy Bills defensive attack

{eot}
The Canadian Press
10/23/2013 8:39:22 PM
Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
Text Size

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Mario Williams accepted his second AFC defensive player of the week honour much like he did his first one of the season.

He shrugged.

"Just another day to me," the Buffalo defensive end said Wednesday.

Williams' production has been anything but routine this season for someone finally beginning to play to the "Super Mario" expectations that came with the six-year $100 million contract he signed in March 2012.

With 10 sacks through seven games, he's tied for second in the NFL and one short of surpassing his season total of last year.

Calling it "progress," Williams acknowledged this is the best he's felt both mentally and physically since breaking into the NFL in 2006, when he was drafted first overall by Houston.

"I think maybe it's time," Williams said. "I don't know, maybe this is as good a time for me in general as far as my career."

Putting aside the frustrations and criticism that came with his inconsistent production last year, Williams finds himself benefiting from his new multi-purpose role in first-year co-ordinator Mike Pettine's attacking style of defence.

It's one that has allowed Williams to become a difference-maker in helping Buffalo (3-4) get off to a better-than-expected start in preparing to play at New Orleans (5-1) on Sunday.

Williams has played a key role in two victories.

He had career-best 4 1/2 sacks in a 24-23 win over Carolina on Sept. 15.

Last weekend, Williams had two sacks, his second forcing a fumble that set up Dan Carpenter's game-winning 31-yard field goal with 33 seconds left in a 23-21 win at Miami.

Former safety Rodney Harrison, who is now a broadcaster, has altered his tune on Williams.

"When he's healthy, he is a different player," said Harrison, who criticized Williams for blaming a wrist injury for hindering his performance last year.

On Monday, Dolphins offensive co-ordinator Mike Sherman was so impressed by Williams' dominant day that he was began referring to him as a future Hall of Famer.

That might be premature, but Williams has already nudged his way ahead of Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith -- the NFL's all-time sacks leader -- in a few categories.

Williams' 4 1/2 sacks against Carolina broke Smith's team record. And his 10 sacks through seven games are one more than Smith's best start in 1997.

"Bruce, to be mentioned in the same sentence is obviously a great feeling," Williams said. "But for myself, my biggest thing is not really counting the sacks I got, it's focusing on the ones I didn't get."

By Williams' count, he should be at 15 or 16 by now.

The ones he has gotten have helped transform the identity of what had previously been a stale and porous defence in Buffalo.

The Bills 23 sacks match the team's second-highest total through seven games. The pass-rush also is paying off in other ways by generating turnovers. The Bills have a league-leading 12 interceptions, and are tied for third with 15 takeaways.

This is a defence that hasn't averaged more than two sacks a game since totalling 40 in 2006. And this was a defence that was so bad under former co-ordinator Dave Wannstedt last year that it allowed a combined 97 points and 1,101 yards in consecutive losses to New England and San Francisco.

Williams credits the off-season arrival of Pettine, who was lured to Buffalo after spending the previous four seasons in the same job with the New York Jets.

Pettine's defence relies on players lining up at various positions -- including Williams -- to keep opposing offences guessing on who might be blitzing. That's a big switch from last year, when Williams traditionally lined up opposite the left tackle.

"It all started with the mentality, just (Pettine) coming in and pretty much wiping the slate clean," Williams said.

Coach Doug Marrone said it's a combination of the defence and Williams.

"I think it's a little bit more difficult when you have a player that moves around," Marrone said. "But he's an outstanding player. I mean, I think you could put him anywhere and he'll be productive."

Defensive tackle Alan Branch has been impressed no matter who deserves the credit.

"I don't know if it's the scheme," Branch said. "I just feel bad for the offensive linemen going against him just because he's a monster when he goes out there."

Ryan Tannehill Mario Williams (Photo: The Canadian Press)

zoom

(Photo: The Canadian Press)
Share This

Share This

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to FarkAdd to TwitterAdd to Stumble UponAdd to Reddit
Print this Story


2014 TSN.ca NFL Preview

AFC

BUF | MIA | NE | NYJ
BAL | CIN | CLE | PIT
HOU | IND | JAC | TEN
DEN | KC | OAK | SD

NFC

DAL | NYG | PHI | WSH
CHI | DET | GB | MIN
ATL | CAR | NO | TB
ARZ | STL | SF | SEA

Podcasts

TSN 1050: Game Night: September 1 - Matt Florjancic

WKYC Cleveland's Matt Florjancic joins Andy McNamara and John Letherby on Game Night.

TSN 1050: Game Night: Joe Horrigan - July 30

Pro Football Hall of Fame VP of Communications Joe Horrigan joined Game Night with Jim Tatti & Andy McNamara to talk NFL Hall of Fame Weekend

TSN 1050: The Bryan Hayes Show: July 28 - John Kryk

SunMedia NFL Columnist, John Kryk joined Bryan Hayes to discuss the potential of Manziel & EJ Manuel's struggles in camp.


More Podcasts

© 2014
All rights reserved.
Bell Media Television