The new Bruce Smith: Five reasons why Mario Williams will excel in Buffalo
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • March 16, 2012 @ 8:53am
This doesn’t feel like real life. Even the day after Mario Williams signed the largest contract ever for an NFL defensive player, it’s surreal that the usually tight-fisted Bills made such a move. $96 million over six years with $50 million guaranteed? My jaw drops a little whenever I think about it. There’s drool, too.
I understand why the process took over two nights. Williams was very conscientious—he does have “perfectionist” habits—in making his decision, ensuring that his fiancee was comfortable with his move, that the Bills’ defensive scheme and Dave Wannstedt’s ideas meshed with Williams’ ability, and rationalizing whether Buffalo had the potential to become a “winning” organization. And maybe even Tempo’s prosciutto-wrapped filet mignon had something to do with it.
Here are five reasons why Williams will excel as a Bill.
The ability: With 53 sacks in just over five years of action, Williams has been both productive and largely durable. The newest Bill didn’t miss a game in his first four years in the league, and his torn pectoral muscle that ended his 2011 season isn’t one that should linger. Looking at his ratings from ProFootballFocus.com, Williams finished fifth in pass rushing rating among defensive ends in 2008, 10th in 2009 and 14th in 2010. While these numbers aren’t indicative of a player who deserves close to $100 million, let’s remember that Williams is only 27.
The scheme: Williams is a pure pass rusher who’s at his best with his hand down at the line of scrimmage. When Houston shifted its scheme to a 3-4 last season—pushing Williams back to outside linebacker—the former first overall pick took most of the preseason to adjust to his new role (more coverage, different responsibilities vs. run). With Bills’ defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt expected to use Williams at his preferred 4-3 right defensive end, there should be only a brief transition window.
The personnel: In Houston, Williams starred as part of a defensive line with few other threats. After Mario’s rookie year, the Texans selected defensive tackle Amobi Okoye 10th overall, hoping to provide another threat on the defensive line to take some of the pressure off of Williams. Okoye flamed out, and only after the addition of J.J. Watt and the development of Connor Barwin did Houston’s defensive line show signs of being more than a one-man show. With Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams commanding attention inside, it will be near impossible for opponents to double-team Mario on the edge. Offensive coordinators will have nightmares game-planning for Buffalo’s pass rush, which should rival Philadelphia’s and San Francisco’s atop the NFL.
The hunting: “Seeing Jim Kelly was definitely a big plus for me,” Williams said in his press conference according to the Toronto Sun. “He did some heavy recruiting and threw in a couple of hunting adventures.” For the same reason that Jared Allen adores life in Minnesota, Mario Williams can pursue a hobby that the areas surrounding Buffalo are known for. Not every marquee free agent demands the nightlife that Willis McGahee expected, fortunately.
The contract: The rather absurdly lucrative contract may keep Buffalo from adding many more players this off-season outside of the draft, but it also should be a huge motivating factor for Mario Williams. Now the highest paid defensive player in league history, Williams understands the pressure to produce and the amount of trust that organization has in his ability.