Mario Williams is not feeling joyous these days, even though his performance for the Buffalo Bills is on the rise.
Williams has seven sacks in the last six games to get to 10.5 sacks on the season.
With the Bills’ record a disappointing 5-8, Williams doesn’t see consolation in his numbers.
Asked if he felt any comfort or relief in his production, Williams gave a forlorn laugh: “Yeah, I guess you could say that, just trying to be able to make plays. But the only comfort comes in wins.”
Does it feel good to be on a roll? “No, my biggest thing is just winning,” Williams said. “The won-lost record is the only thing that’s important. I just try to go out and play ball and hopefully we’ll win.”
Does it feel good to play with better health? “Yeah it does in a sense, but at the end of the day the most important thing for us is winning the game,” he said.
Similar questions followed ... and you get the picture.
Nevertheless, Williams has helped spur the rise of the Bills’ defense to relative respectability. They were 31st in the NFL in yards allowed, giving up 424 a game, at their bye week on Oct. 28.
Entering Sunday’s game against Seattle they have improved to 21st, yielding 289 yards a game over the past six weeks. Granted, the competition has gotten easier.
Nevertheless, Williams has made big plays in every game since he had a surgical procedure to resolve a ligament problem in his wrist.
“It’s amazing how much a wrist surgery does to somebody,” said defensive end Kyle Moore. “He was complaining about it the first half of the season. And once he got it done, it just made a big difference for him and his game, and you see it.”
Williams is tied for sixth in the NFL in sacks. He’s the first Bill to hit double-digits in sacks since Aaron Schobel did it in 2009. It’s the third double-digit sack season of Williams’ seven-year career. He had 14 sacks in 2007 and 12 in 2008.
Williams has shown versatility in his quarterback takedowns. His best pass-rush strength is using his power and leverage to get inside tackles or bull-rush blockers into the backfield. But he used a speed move around the edge to bat the ball out of the hand of Jacksonville quarterback Chad Henne and create a turnover two weeks ago. He used a speed move to get around Cleveland Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas in Week Three.
“I just give you a little bit of everything,” Williams said. “I try not to do the same thing over and over again. In the stable [of pass-rush moves] you’ve got to have three things you can do. You just rotate it.”
“With him being able to use both of his hands, guys have to worry about his speed,” Moore said. “Now he can get upfield. He can jump you inside. He can chop-club-rip you to the outside. You never know what he’s gonna do, because he’s so strong and he’s also fast.”
“If you try to sleep on his speed, that can get offensive tackles in trouble,” Moore said. “He beats guys around corners that are not expecting him to run around guys. They’re expecting him to run down the middle or come back inside. Being able to do all that and switch it up helps him a lot.”
On Williams’ sack of Rams quarterback Sam Bradford last week, defensive tackle Alex Carrington did a lot of the work, bursting into the backfield and flushing the QB in Williams’ direction.
“He definitely came through and made the pressure against a one-on-one block,” Williams said. “Unfortunately he didn’t get him down. We played off one another and made the play. That’s just how it’s got to be. When you get an opportunity, you have to get him off his spot and trust in your guys to cover you up.”
Williams almost had another sack, stripping Bradford of the ball in the backfield. But Bradford recovered and gained 2 yards.
Williams said the Bills’ improved showing against the run has helped the pass rush. But playing with a lead is the biggest help.
“When you look at teams that put up a tremendous amount of points or teams that kind of get the lead early and make the other team one-dimensional, that’s what all defenses want,” he said. “If they gotta catch up, they’re gonna be more likely to throw the ball. ... Whenever you’re out there and you’re playing an ‘if’ game, especially when teams do a lot of mimic [passing out of running looks] and stuff like that, it makes it a lot more difficult than if you’re just up 14 or 21 points.”