‘Shep’ admitted he was most similar to Hulk but told reporters he wouldn’t reveal any superhero identities beyond that. During the end-of-season interviews, a few teammates owned up to their nicknames including Sheldon Rankins and Quinnen Williams.
Jets team reporter Ethan Greenberg posed the question to Williams: “Sheldon Rankins told me he was Batman. Sheldon told me that Carl Lawson, you guys call him Superman… so what are you?”
“Iron Man,” Williams answered emphatically.
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I Am Iron Man
The inner comic book nerd in me is struggling to ignore the fact that the Jets D-line combined Marvel and DC in their superhero selections, but I digress. Williams explained why he’s Iron Man and it did make a lot of sense.
“Everybody calls me Iron Man because without my uniform I’m all nice and smiling all the time, and like Tony Stark, [I’m] smooth and different stuff like that,” the former first-round pick told Greenberg. “But when Tony Stark puts his equipment on, man, he’s a machine so that’s how I feel like I am. When I put my uniform on on Sundays, I try to turn into a machine but I’m all cool and nice and stuff when the uniform [is] off. So, I’m Iron Man.”
I pegged Williams as more of a Thor guy in my comparison but I can’t knock the choice. The 6-foot-3 beast of a man has the size, strength and agility of the fabled suit without the power source and all that metal. For the Jets DT, that part is all God-given.
“I definitely feel like I’m headed in the right direction that I want to head in,” Williams voiced, “and making the necessary plays that I need to make on the field and off the field, and do the things I need to do to help this defense and this team win when it comes down to executing and making the big plays.”
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Scheme Fit for Q? Others?
As much as we all believe these D-linemen can play like superheroes, they didn’t in 2021, plain and simple.
Aside from John Franklin-Myers, most of these Jets stars regressed switching over to Robert Saleh’s system and part of that is just the natural growing pain of transitioning from a 3-4 to a 4-3, but it’s still concerning nonetheless.
Williams spoke about the scheme: “I definitely love the defense in general, I love the opportunities that [Saleh] gives us as a defensive line front to attack and to make necessary plays that we want to make… I feel like year two is going to be way better.”
The former Alabama prospect may be right about year two under Saleh, but how many of his Jets DL teammates will get the chance to prove themselves in an encore? Foley Fatukasi and Shepherd are unrestricted free agents coming off let-down campaigns. Rankins is a potential cap casualty heading into the second year of his contract.
Saleh may look to bring in guys that better fit his system in 2022 as the defensive overhaul continues, and even Williams isn’t 100% safe. Trade rumors have begun to mention the Jets youngster with an extension on the horizon.
Neither Joe Douglas nor Saleh drafted Williams — an important factor to keep in mind — although it would be tough to trade arguably your most talented player once again (Jamal Adams). Gang Green can’t rebuild forever and they’ll need studs like Williams to complete this turnaround.
At the Senior Bowl, Saleh was asked about adding on the D-line. He stated: “You guys know how I am with the pass rush, it’s the one group that makes everyone better on defense and it’s the one group that can take away everybody on offense. So improving our defensive line is always going to be — even when it is as good as it’s gonna get — we’re always going to want to improve that group.”