Mario Williams had to laugh about Jerry Hughes’ third-quarter sack of Ryan Tannehill in Sunday’s Buffalo Bills victory over the Miami Dolphins.
Williams and Hughes almost met simultaneously in the backfield as Tannehill reached the last step of his drop-back. Hughes got there a half a step quicker and got the sack.
“I will say it’s tough to get a sack with our defense, because everybody else is right there,” Williams said. “It’s that close for not just one guy getting a sack, but there’s so many guys that have opportunities to make plays. We feed off one another.”
More sacks, more pressures and more variety in the Bills’ defensive scheme have meant more fun for Williams in Year Two of his tenure with the Bills. Even though he’s dissatisfied with the team’s 6-9 record, Williams is happy about the defensive scheme and the teamwork that exits on the defensive unit.
“It’s just more enjoyable with the group of guys we have,” Williams said. “We really came together. We’re just trying to get after it. We’re on the same page in trying to understand things with the new system. It’s just there’s more camaraderie, I’d say.”
Williams’ 13 sacks are one shy of his career high, set in 2007 in Houston. The total is 2.5 better than he had last year, when he battled through an uncomfortable hand injury the first half of the season. He also has more quarterback pressures, 47 this year compared with 38 last year, according to Profootballfocus.com.
Does he consider this his best season?
“I would say it’s close, yeah,” he said.
The collective Bills’ effort is vastly improved.
The Bills have 20 more sacks than last year with one game to play, and Buffalo has two other players (Hughes and Kyle Williams) with 10 sacks. Last year, Marcell Dareus was second to Mario Williams with 5.5.
“Everybody across the board is out there hunting,” Williams said. “It’s good to have a group of guys who can get after it and apply pressure. It doesn’t put all the stress on one person.”
Mario Williams had one sack against Miami and pressures on two other sacks. He also stunted inside to help break Kyle Williams free on a loop to the outside on one of the latter’s sacks.
Mario’s sack was his second in the last seven games. He had 11 the first eight. He was outstanding in recent games against Atlanta and Jacksonville. He did little to get noticed in the losses at Pittsburgh and Tampa.
“I think Mario has played really well,” Bills defensive line coach Anthony Weaver said just before the Miami game.
“It’s obvious as of late his sack totals have been down a little as compared to the beginning of the season. But offenses have plans for him. There’s no doubt he’s drawing attention where other guys are feeding off it.”
“I tell him, don’t get caught up in the numbers. Play your game and they’ll come. His effort has been tremendous all season. He’s gone out there and while he’s not a vocal leader, he leads by example. He’s out here practicing. He’s battling through injuries. When he does say something, it carries weight because he doesn’t talk so much.”
Williams’ sack total ranks third in the NFL. However, he said he sees plenty of room for improvement.
“We can get a lot better because we’ve missed a lot of sacks, honestly, as a whole,” he said. “Especially I can say for myself, there could be a lot more. And I mean literally having them in the grasp, not just close calls. Ones where I just ended up missing it. So we can definitely be a lot better.”
He also thinks the run defense, which has been plagued by big-gainers allowed, will get better as the players stay in the same system over the next year.
“For sure, we’ve still got a lot to learn about the defense and the possibilities of it,” he said. “I think we’ll definitely be able to fix some things.”