Leonard Williams Is A Bright Spot In Lost Jets Season

There’s not many bright spots for the New York Jets this season.

Injuries, soul-crushing losses and poor performance are just a norm during the abyss of 2016.

However, there is one bright spot in second-year defensive end Leonard Williams.

“He’s come along leaps and bounds,” said coach Todd Bowles. “The mental part of the game is becoming slow to him, so he’s doing a very good job.”

Slowing down the game is the biggest change from college to pro. Williams, the sixth overall pick last year from USC, is picking up his game with 41 sacks, 12 assists and six sacks. Along with Muhammed Wilkerson, the Jets have their bookends on the defensive line.

And now, he is finishing the pass rush, making him a very effective end.

“He’s understanding blocking schemes a little bit better and the game has slowed down for him. Before he was just running like a bull in a China shop,” Now he understands what’s happening to him and he’s adjusting.”

The Jets are going to need Williams this Monday against the Colts. The Indianapolis defense has allowed 38 sacks and on Thanksgiving quarterback Andrew Luck sat out with a concussion.

It’s going to be important for Williams to be in high form to help keep pressure Indy’s talented quarterback.

“People paying attention to him (and) the ball coming out quicker,” Bowles said. “He’s getting close. He’s getting hurries. It’s not always going to accumulate into sacks, but he’s getting hurries.”

Even with a lower sack total, Bowles knows it’s going to be a matter of time for Williams.

“I’d say he’s at the point where he’s gotten a lot better,” the coach said.  “He can get so much better, but he’s making a lot of progress. He doesn’t have a ceiling, but he doesn’t have a basement either. Right now he’s steadily ascending.”

With such a high pick, the Jets expected Williams to progress nicely. Eventually, he could become another Wilkerson, who is one of the most feared pass rushers in the sport.

“I think it’s just a natural progression,” Bowles said. “When you play as a rookie, you learn so much more after 16 games. Coming back the next year, so mentally we expect him to be a little better than he was last year.”

So maybe the season isn’t entirely lost.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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