Jets’ Quinnen Williams on Chris Jones: “Training with him helped me become the player I am”

Jets - Quinnen Williams
FILE – New York Jets’ Quinnen Williams speaks to reporters after a practice at the NFL football team’s training facility in Florham Park, N.J., May 24, 2022. Williams and the Jets have agreed, Thursday, July 13, 2023, to a four-year contract extension worth $96 million, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
AP Photos

FLORHAM PARK — Quinnen Williams is well on his way to becoming one of the most dominant defensive forces in the NFL for the New York Jets. His All-Pro season in 2022 has already begun to be topped by having one of the highest-graded outputs of work for an interior tackle to start the 2023 season. 

Even with the Jets season hanging in the balance with a 1-2 start, the new father is focused on helping the team win no matter the cost. 

“It’s urgency around the board. We’re not getting to the quarterback at a high rate, and I’m not getting to the quarterback at a high rate right now. I hold myself to a higher standard in what I can to help this team win and put the team in a position to win games,” Williams told AMNY.

To be a top defensive player at such a young age is both a testament to Williams’ work ethic and his willingness to learn from other NFL greats. In the case of the former Alabama star, his relationship with Kansas City Chiefs’ star Chris Jones has been a key part of his development. 

“I train with him every offseason. I try to do everything he does on the field. That’s my guy right there,” Williams said of Jones. “I took everything he did in his game. He taught me everything in his game and put it inside my game. Training with him helped me become the player I am to this day.”

Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones comes onto the field during introductions before playing the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL AFC Championship playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. The negotiations between the Kansas City Chiefs and Chris Jones appear to be getting more contentious by the day, and chances are growing that the Super Bowl champions will begin their title defense without the All-Pro defensive tackle. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Williams’ work with the Chiefs’ top defensive player has helped him become the second-highest-paid defensive player in football to date. Just a month removed from the Jets and him agreeing to it, and Williams’ status is unquestioned. It’s a mark that Jones is now trying to break on his own – although the results for him haven’t been as successful.

Lost in the Chiefs’ recent run of dominance across the NFL has been his play though. Like his young friend, Jones was also a First-Team All-Pro in 2022 and finished in the top three voting for Defensive Player of the Year. His 15 sacks were more than Williams’ and was the fourth straight year he was invited to the Pro Bowl. 

Without him, the Chiefs would surely not be the defending Super Bowl champions or even won two titles at this point either. Another year into the Patrick Mahomes era and they are still seen as the favorites to repeat in 2023. 

Not the best for a Jets team trying to end a two-game slide.

“It’s a lot of urgency trying to get things corrected. Trying to correct things to the way we can be. It’s not panic or frustration, it’s urgency,” Williams explained. “They got a quarterback, amazing tight end, a great guy on the other side of the ball in Chris. The whole team in general. A team that has everything in order. They are going to be a great challenge.”

In many ways, it’ll be up to the captains of the Jets to propel them to new heights after a slow 1-2 start to the season. Like his mentor in Kansas City, Williams is now one of those leaders. 

Jets head coach Robert Saleh announced Friday that the former third-overall pick was given the permanent captain spot after Aaron Rodgers went down to injury. It was a move that was almost too easy to make for the staff.

“He’s such a big vocal leader on this team and stands for everything we believe in,” said Saleh.

Williams wants to end the Jets’ playoff drought more than anyone in 2023. As an unquestioned leader in the locker room now, he’s focused on trying to turn their season around as major underdogs going into a Sunday Night Football contest. 

Playing against his mentor will certainly help get him ready to go as well. 

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