Jets’ Gregg Williams itching to throw ‘wrinkles’ at Daniel Jones
This is a defensive coordinator’s fantasy: the chance to go against a rookie quarterback who is struggling. The grin on Gregg Williams’ face on Friday at the Jets’ training facility stretched from ear to ear. He was a happy man despite his team’s 1-7 record.
He linked his good mood to the cold breezy weather. “Great football weather,” he said.
Perhaps his mood also had something to do with facing Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones on Sunday, when the two teams meet at MetLife Stadium. It’s like a wolf circling wounded prey, or, in this case, a veteran defensive coordinator going against an inexperienced rookie making just his eighth NFL start.
Williams, 61, knows the odds are in his favor this week. He couldn’t beat rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew at Jacksonville. But maybe he can force Jones into making the kind of mistakes a more experienced quarterback might avoid.
Williams calls them “wrinkles,” which are essentially disguised coverages and blitzes, something Jones has had trouble with his past three games, in which he has lost seven fumbles and endured 16 sacks.
“Some of those things are effective and because he hasn’t seen some of those things, we have some of that in [the game plan],” Williams revealed Friday. “We’ll see.”
Williams didn’t divulge any further secrets, but said being tricky doesn’t normally fool veteran quarterbacks the way it can a rookie.
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“We do some of those same wrinkles against Tom Brady and he smiles at you,” Williams said. “Drew Brees smiles at you. Philip Rivers in a game about a year ago, he’s yelling at me because of some of the things he recognizes. We have a good time with that.”
He wants to give Jones a hard time on Sunday. Figure Williams, who began coaching in the NFL in 1990, to come up with several well-disguised defenses intended to continue Jones’ problems with turnovers. The Giants’ first-round draft pick committed three (two fumbles, one interception) in a 37-18 loss to the Cowboys Monday night. He was also sacked five times.
Overall, Jones has thrown 11 touchdown passes and been intercepted eight times in seven starts. He has been impressive at times and seemingly lost at others, kind of like Jets quarterback Sam Darnold.
Jones’ equalizer is his legs. He isn’t shy about escaping the pocket and has rushed for 188 yards and two touchdowns.
“You have to have good gap presence and you have to have good scramble presence,” Williams said.
The Jets’ defense is ranked 17th overall despite injuries that have decimated the linebacker corps. Most of the cornerbacks are injured or still learning, and Williams’ best defensive lineman is rookie first-round pick Quinnen Williams.
The Jets still rank sixth against the run, allowing 89.3 yards per game, and 24th against the pass at 263. The Giants (2-7) by comparison own the league’s 24th-ranked offense with the 17th-rated rushing attack (102.1) and 18th passing game (224.7).
Asked what the Giants could expect from a Williams defense, head coach Pat Shurmur basically said to expect the unexpected. That might be an understatement.
“They’re multiple [defenses] to some degree,” Shurmur said. “They’re willing to play old-school Tampa 2, which is an extreme coverage. He’s just as comfortable to play that as he is Cover 1 as he is to pressure with five [pass rushers] or bring them all. When you’re either attacking or defending extremes that becomes a challenge.”
While Williams will try to overwhelm Jones, he’s calling on brute force to contain running back Saquon Barkley. Williams admitted to “highlighting” Barkley during this week’s preparation and said the Jets must be precise and physical when tackling him.
“The thing that’s shocking to me is not only the tremendous bursts, but also the power that man has,” Williams said. “We have to do a good job on our swarm tackles and we have to do a good job on our tackling techniques. He’s not afraid of contact and he has good power and a very good change of direction.”
Suddenly, Williams wasn’t smiling anymore.
For more on the Giants, listen to the latest episode of the “Blue Rush” podcast:
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