It’s not a Mario Party without talking to someone who use to party with #90. It’s a Q&A with Matthew Campbell from Battled Red Blog (SB Nation Texans affiliate). We talk Mario Williams.

1) What type of player is Mario Williams? Strengths and weaknesses?

When he’s healthy and going 100%, he can be absolutely dominant in all facets of playing defense.  His biggest strength is that he’s not a one-dimensional player; he’s an every down DE who can play either side of the line in a 4-3, at any spot from the 5-technique to a wide-9.  His weaknesses?  Well, the biggest seems to be getting him to go 100% on every play.  He’s not Randy Moss, taking plays off entirely, but he does go through stretches in the middle of games where it seems like he’s holding something back.  His other main weakness is that he sometimes relies too much on his own strength/speed, and he’s never really developed some of the pass-rushing moves that you see from guys who aren’t quite as physically gifted.  (This last weakness also leads to his occasionally being blocked well past the QB, as smart OTs simply use his speed to the outside against him.)

2) What was your favorite Mario Williams play in which you thought “Man, this guy can play!”

I’ll give you two.  First, in week 1 of the 2008 preseason, on one of Denver’s first offensive snaps of the game, Mario literally picked up rookie LT Ryan Clady and threw Clady at the RB, dropping him for a loss.  It was like something out of a cheesy sports movie.  Second, and more recently, he had a one-handed sack of Ben Roethlisberger in 2011 that showed the kind of insane strength he has. It was a play that maybe three or four guys in the entire NFL could have made, and it didn’t even seem out of place for Mario.

3) Are injuries a concern?

Yes, sadly, though the extent of the concern depends on who you ask.  In his rookie year, he battled plantar fasciitis and had to take cortizone shots before every game.  In 2010, he had a double sports hernia.  In 2011, he was lost for the season with a torn pec.  So it’s not like it’s the same injury that keeps recurring, but the fact that he gets injured does keep happening (if that makes sense).  I think a good deal of it can be chalked up to bad luck — the torn pec, for example, happened as he sacked Jason Campbell with one arm while fighting off a block — but I’m not exactly unbiased.

4) Is he better suited in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense?

While he was a great fit for a Wade Phillips 3-4, he would be wasted to a large degree in a traditional 3-4.  4-3 DE was the position he was born to play.

5) How are Texans fans feeling?

Personally, I’m crushed.  I knew it was highly likely that he would leave, but that didn’t make it any easier when it happened.  I was one of the few people who loved the Mario pick in 2006, and I defended him constantly over those first few years until it became clear that it was the right pick.  As for Texans fans as a whole, at least going by what I’ve seen at Battle Red Blog, most people are disappointed that he’s gone, but they are optimistic that the Texans’ defensive success last season wasn’t a fluke and that Mario’s departure frees money to resign Chris Myers.  A smaller contingent are acting like bitter ex-girlfriends and saying inane stuff like “hope he enjoys never making the playoffs” and “Buffalo overpaid for the six healthy games per year that they’ll get from him,” but those people are idiots and should be ignored as such.

6) We all know Williams can go after the passer, but how does he play against the run?

In my opinion, he’s better against the run than as a pass rusher.  He has great instincts, has the speed to adjust on the fly, does not overpursue, and has the strength to blow up running plays by destroying blockers at the line.  (This is why I always felt he was better at LDE than RDE, in fact.)  His run defense has always been terribly underrated.

7) 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?

When the Texans still ran a 4-3, Mario never really got to play with a good DT duo to help him out by preventing double teams.  I can’t see any way that Mario’s presence doesn’t make Dareus look great this year.  You are going to see teams go with two TEs staying home to block quite a bit this year as well.