New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams has become more comfortable being a leader for the team in the defensive line room.
However, he appears to be taking steps towards helping his fellow linemen to grow their game, according to Ethan Greenberg of newyorkjets.com.
When he entered the league he had veterans like Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison with him, and he tended to defer to them. However, with them gone, and with him having more experience, he feels more comfortable being a leader now.
“I never really felt like it was never my time to try to do something, but I always had guys like Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson ahead of me. At the same time, I respected those guys and they were the leaders of the room. When they said something, I’d follow. I was one of the younger guys. It’s the same way if me and Mac said something in the room, the younger guys would follow. It’s a little different vibe. I’m not going to say I’m more ready now than I was before in terms of wanting to be ready, but I feel more comfortable.”
He’s talked about getting his teammates to increase their energy to have better practices to get better, and becoming more vocal. “But on a day-to-day basis in practice, meetings and workouts, I definitely step up and say stuff when I need to like when we have low energy. Little things like that.”
The Jets failure to get any pressure off the edge has been a major reason why Williams’ stats don’t line up with his abilities on the field. Opposing offenses have been able to focus their blocking schemes around Williams, as they know there’s a slim chance they’ll be beaten around the outside.
It’s a big reason why Williams has only 12 sacks in three seasons. He’s being double-teamed on almost every snap, making it nearly impossible for him to generate pressure. He’s done a good job stopping the run, however, getting 87 tackles and 91 assisted tackles in his career. He’s forced two fumbles and intercepted one pass as well.
With the inexperience on the defense, the Jets need Williams to step up and be a leader. He appears to be game to the task.