So much for a quiet day. The Bills seem to be players in free agency for a change (Gotta sign someone, not just fly them in). Mario Williams is in Buffalo as we speak and will be having dinner with like half of the Bills brass at One Bills Drive. Chop House, probably? Anyways, I’m sure some of you want to know what type of player Williams is besides just googling his stats and reminiscing about him being drafted over Reggie Bush. I got a Q&A set up with Patrick Starr, who writes for the State of Texans. Of course, we talk Mario Williams.
1) What type of player is Mario Williams?
Mario Williams is one of those genetic freaks. He has mostly been a 4-3 defensive end since he was drafted first overall by the Texans in 2006. He is a hybrid defensive player, because at times he can give a power bull rush and then on another snap, he is blowing by offensive tackles. This past season the Texans used him as a stand up outside linebacker, but in Wade Phillips scheme, he was just a defensive end without his hand in the ground. He commands respect, but to say he is always that “guy” to get to the quarterback consistently is not accurate. At times, he gets overwhelmed by blockers in his pass rush and just doesn’t show that motor you would want to see from a star defensive end. There have been times that Williams has been questioned about his desire when he steps on the field and I think that is why plenty of Texans’ fans are split on whether they really want him back. He lost weight for the 2011 season, and looked lean and more athletic than previous seasons. To me, he is more fit for a 4-3 defensive end.
2) Why has Mario Williams sack numbers gone down every year since 2008?
Injuries have plagued Williams the last few seasons. He was off to a great start in 2011 with 5 sacks in 5 games, but he tore his pectoral muscle while making a sack against the Raiders. In his early years in Houston, when there was little help on the other side, Williams was double teamed or put out of the play by formations. So he had the odds stacked up against him with little help. The previous years of 2007-2008, he looked fresh and were his best as a Texan. He just can’t shake the injury bug. In 2010, they shut him down with a sports hernia. He has been nicked and bruised which has slowed him down the past few seasons.
3) Are injuries a concern?
Like I said in the previous question, it has been his undoing the past two seasons. He can make things happen, but keeping him healthy is a big concern.
4) I know some pro-Williams fans have said that he didn’t play with many talented players on the front line in Houston and that’s why his sack numbers went down, is that true?
To a point, but you would expect a guy who has that much talent to create pressure by himself and he doesn’t. He is a talented football player, but to say the lack of help effected his play has “some” merit. You would still like your big time pass rusher to make things happen by himself, but he doesn’t. To classify him with the elite pass rushers in the game, might be giving him too much credit.
5) Do you think Mario Williams is overrated?
No, I think he is a complete defensive end when he is in the three point stance. The biggest improvement was his ability to be better against the run during his Pro Bowl years with the Texans. Early in his career, he was just known to rush the passer only. He has become stouter against the run while setting the edge. To be honest, he sometimes is not looking for contact. He is not a big hitter and when he is going for a sack, he doesn’t look to punish the quarterback. He is more of a drag and pull down tackler. Mario Williams to any team, will give them a considerable upgrade to their defensive line, so I am not down playing his importance and addition to any team.
6) The Bills have two stout defensive tackles in Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, how much do you think having Williams on the edge will help both of them and vice verse?
If Williams and Dareus can command the double team, they will help the game of Williams, and like you said vice verse. If you add more depth and play makers to the defensive line, there will be good things happening. More importantly, the secondary will improve dramatically with less time to cover receivers down the field. Strong defensive line play is key, and adding Williams, if the Bills can, will prove a big signing.
7) What type of leader is he?
He is not a vocal leader and is very quiet. You will be surprised when you hear him talk and you hear a voice like that come out of a 6’6′, 283 lbs. man. He is very active in the Houston community and recently bought new police cars for the Houston Police Department. He was at every Texans game after his injury and seems to be a good teammate. He has had no off the field issues, and has taken all the issues and criticism in stride since coming to Houston in 2006.
8) You mentioned earlier about lack of effort, can you elaborate?
At times, it seems like Williams lacks full effort. The two outside linebackers for the Texans after Williams was injured, Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed, were high motor guys and never gave up trying to get the quarterback. In my opinion, Williams disappeared at times, due to effort. As physically gifted as Williams is, effort is a big concern for me. He didn’t display that “bulldog” effort on every play like Barwin and Reed.