With no game until Monday night, the Detroit Lions had time to sit back and watch the action on a rare Sunday afternoon, and a major theme emerged about where the game is trending in 2021.
As part of all the football watching, at least one intriguing take emerged from the weekend and it was courtesy of Detroit defensive tackle Nick Williams. Williams was watching the games play out and seemed none too pleased that the referees seem to be clamping down on celebrations.
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As Williams tweeted, one of his biggest takeaways from watching the action was how the referees are penalizing players for celebrating on the field. As Williams tweeted, he feels as if the rules are being applied very strictly, and the league simply wants their players to perform like robots on the field now.
Back in 2017, the league relaxed their celebration rules, but four years later, there’s been more than a bit of a change to that mantra. Entering into this season, the NFL instructed referees to more strictly enforce taunting rules and that result has shown itself on the field in 2021 to the detriment of the league according to some like Williams.
For a long time, the league’s reputation had been that of being referred to as the “No Fun League” until the rules were loosened. With this move back to stricter celebration rules, it’s clear the players as well as the fans believe things to be trending back in the wrong direction.
Early in a new season, Williams is calling it out, as he believes it is to the detriment of the game. Expecting players to play and react like robots should not be part of the mix as he sees it.
Lions, Referees Typically Have Complicated Relationship
Typically, the Lions have not been a team to have trouble with the referees in terms of celebration penalties or taunting through the years, though they do have trouble with referees. If there’s a penalty to be called on the Lions for something such as this, there’s no reason to think the referees will hold back, at least based on their past history with the team.
Detroit has has obscure things come up from time to time in the rulebook such as 10 second runoff applications, batted balls out of the end zone and of course the Calvin Johnson process of the catch rule. It seems if there’s a way for the rulebook to be applied in a bizarre way, the Lions are going to find it as evidence through the years has proven. The hope for the team is they don’t see a celebration penalty doom them after something good happens on the field.
Williams’ Career Stats and Highlights
Williams, a seven-year veteran, has bounced around the NFL throughout his career. He originally entered the league as a seventh-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013, and by 2014, had joined the Kansas City Chiefs. After spending two-plus seasons there, Williams departed for the Miami Dolphins and spent a season there before signing with the Chicago Bears in 2018.
After putting up minuscule counting stats at every prior stop, Williams came into his own with the Bears in 2019, setting career-highs in nearly every category, including combined tackles (42), quarterback hits (nine), sacks (6.0) and fumble recoveries (two) in 16 games (five starts).
Known for his ability as a pass rush disruptor, Williams might not offer the Lions much against the run, but he can help collapse the pocket as his 2019 numbers prove. The hope is with more playing time, the 31-year-old can continue to play a big role and come into his own in Detroit. This past season, Williams put up just 1.0 sack and 23 total tackles despite starting 13 of 14 games. So obviously, the team could stand to use more from the journeyman lineman. The pressure figures to be on for that starting now.
Here’s a look at some of Williams’ previous work:
Currently in the second season of a two-year, $10 million free agent contract signed last March, 2021 could be a make-or-break season for Williams.
Hopefully, he continues to show emotion and does not conform to the norms of the NFL.