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First in Flight: Williams Convincing Case for Jets MVP?

New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams continues to make his case as one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL.

Despite a disheartening 7-10 finish to their season, the New York Jets produced more than a handful of standout performances in 2023 — especially on defense. 

New York ranked No. 3 in overall defense, allowing a defensive yards average of only 292.3, while finishing second in pass defense by yielding a stingy 168.3 passing yards per game. 

Though a notable portion of the Jets success on the preventive side of the ball can be attributed to a strong secondary, their front seven remains among the most productive in the NFL — led by defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. 

DT Quinnen Williams celebrates on field

Having joined Gang Green as the third overall selection, Williams has emerged not only as one of the Jets top defenders, but also one of the NFL’s most fearsome defensive tackles. Following a first-team All Pro selection in 2022, Williams signed a four year, $96 million contract extension with the Jets in July 2023. The 26-year-old lived up to his worth in 2023, earning a career-high 62 total tackles, 20 quarterback hits, 5.5 sacks and one safety. For the second straight season, Williams will represent the Jets at Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla. 

However, Williams’ value to the Jets goes far beyond his statistical prowess. The Alabama product was graded as the No. 3 overall interior line defender, as well as the No. 1 interior run defender against by Pro Football Focus. Though each designation is due largely in part to individual performance, Williams’ ability to act as a facilitator for the remainder of the Jets’ front seven makes him a vital component of the team’s defensive system. Often drawing double and triple teams from opposing offensive lines, Williams’ mere presence facilitated flow to the play for New York’s defensive tackles and linebackers. In fact, fellow tackles Solomon Thomas (five) and Quinton Jefferson (six) earned career-highs in sacks, as a result. 

With Thomas, Jefferson and defensive end Bryce Huff headlining the Jets free agent class, Williams being under contract through 2027 will help to provide stability for New York’s defense for the foreseeable future. If his performance over the past two seasons is an indication of what lies ahead on the green side of the Meadowlands, that future appears to be bright for the hometown team — as well as ominous for their opponents.