Trent Williams vs. Chandler Jones: An 8-Round TKO
If you’re like me, you haven’t seen Trent Williams play much. You’ve seen him on television and you know he’s a great left tackle, but you haven’t studied his tape, because you haven’t studied Washington. Why would you?
Today, I delved into Williams’ tape for the first time. He didn’t play in 2019, so I picked one game from 2018 -- Week 1 against the Cardinals. I wanted to watch Williams against arguably the best edge-rusher in the NFL, Chandler Jones. Jones has 96 sacks in his career even though he turned 30 just this past February. He’s great, too.
I expected to see an evenly-matched fight between two elite players. Jones gives every left tackle problems -- even Joe Staley before he retired.
What I saw was not suitable for children.
Williams massacred Jones. Made him essentially quit. Gave up zero sacks, hits or “pressures.”
Williams also is a phenomenal run-blocker, and I’ll analyze that part of his game in the near future. Today, I focus completely on his pass protection. Here are the eight best rounds of his fight with Jones. To see the plays, watch the above video.
Round 1. First Quarter. 13:54. First and 10 at the Cardinals 41-yard line.
Jones uses a speed-to-power move, meaning he takes three aggressive strides upfield as if he intends to rush around the edge, then cuts directly into Williams’ chest and pushes him backward. Jones wants to get Williams off balance by making his slide laterally before bracing for contact. Good plan.
No one does this move better than Jones. And yet, he moves Williams only three or four yards backward. Williams “drops anchor,” as NFL coaches say, which means he stops Jones in his tracks. Williams is so freaking strong.
Round 1 goes to Williams.
Round 2. First Quarter. 13:02. Third and Four at the Cardinals 35-yard line.
Jones takes a hard jab step to the outside before juking back to the inside, like a crossover in basketball. Jones gives a terrific crossover, but still doesn’t fool Williams, who punches Jones in the chest, knocks him off balance and pushes him into the left guard. Jones quits on the play.
Round 2 goes to Williams
Round 3. First Quarter. 5:09. Second and Nine at the Washington 21-yard line.
This time, Jones tries to beat Williams around the edge. You’ve got to try something new if the other stuff doesn’t work, right?
But this doesn’t work, either. Williams grabs Jones, and Jones loses his balance. Almost falls forward on his face. Williams mercifully holds him up as Alex Smith completes a nine-yard pass to Vernon Davis. Remember those two?
Round 3 goes to Williams.
Round 4. First Quarter. 3:51. First and 10 at the Washington 43-yard line.
Jones bulrushes directly into Williams’ chest, gets nowhere and quits after a couple steps.
Round 4 goes to Williams. The first quarter hasn’t ended yet, and Jones already has lost heart. Can you blame him?
Round 5. Second Quarter. 15:00. Second and 10 at the Cardinals 13-yard line.
Jones tries a move from earlier -- the jab step to the outside followed by the quick crossover back to the inside. Williams sees it coming, punches Jones in the throat and completely mirrors Jones’ footwork as Alex Smith throws a touchdown pass to running back Chris Thompson.
Round 5 goes to Williams. Williams actually is quicker than Jones.
Round 6. Second Quarter. 8:46. First and 10 at the Cardinals 49-yard line. Washington leading 7-0.
Jones tries another crossover to the inside, but this time dives wildly, and Williams throws him to the ground as Smith spins to his left and completes a pass to tight end Jordan Reed.
Round 6 goes to Williams.
Jones is overmatched and he knows it.
Round 7. Second Quarter. 0:29. First and 10 at the Cardinals 12-yard line.
This is Jones’ last stand. He gives all the effort and willpower he has left. When the center snaps the ball, Jones runs hard into Williams and knocks him back a few yards. Then Jones jumps over Williams, raises his left arm and almost hits Smith in the helmet. But Smith calmly completes an eight-yard pass to Thompson.
Round 7 still goes to Williams. And this was Jones’ most competitive round.
Round 8. Third Quarter. 10:24. Second and Seven at the Washington 11-yard line.
Now Washington leads 21-0, and Jones doesn’t want to fight anymore. This play is a long-developing play-action pass, and Jones never actually engages Williams or does something you would consider a “move.” He watches as Smith completes an 11-yard pass to Josh Doctson.
Round 8 goes to Williams. This basically is the end of the fight. Washington protects Smith the rest of the game with runs and quick passes.
Williams: Eight rounds.
Jones: Zero rounds.
Jones might be a future Hall of Famer, and he figured out within three or four plays that nothing he did would work against Williams. Literally nothing. Not speed. Not power. Not quickness.
Williams seems unreal. He’s like one of those players you create in Madden whose every attribute rates 99 out of 99. He’s a video game creation.
Jimmy Garoppolo must be pretty, pretty pleased.