When the Houston Texans made Mario Williams the No. 1 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft they expected a game-changing player. He became one of the most prolific Texans players in their short history in his six seasons there. He recorded 53 sacks, a franchise record, as well as 11 forced fumbles, also a franchise record. He made two Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro twice as well. When the Texans let him walk in free agency the Buffalo Bills signed him expecting more of the same.
Williams was solid, if inconsistent, in his first season in Buffalo. He led the team with 10.5 sacks and had two forced fumbles. Good numbers for sure but not what you expect from a guy you gave over $50 million in guaranteed money to. A wrist injury hampered him through much of the year and he had it scoped during the bye week last season. I’m not sure if it was the wrist or simply getting comfortable in his new surroundings, but Williams is back to being a dominant player this season. He’s already recorded 10 sacks through the first seven games. Michael Strahan‘s single season sack record might be safe, but Bruce Smith‘s franchise record of 19 is certainly in jeopardy.
Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins was the perfect example of just how Williams could take over a game. Ryan Tannehill was comfortable in the pocket all day long, but with the Bills down by one point halfway through the fourth quarter and the Dolphins moving the ball towards Bills’ territory, Williams stepped up. He crushed Tannehill with the first Bills’ sack of the game on second down and the Dolphins had to punt after failing to convert on third and long.
When the Bills’ ensuing drive stalled they punted it back to the Dolphins, and Williams stepped up again. He collapsed the pocket and got to Tannehill from the front side to force a fumble that Kyle Williams recovered at the Dolphins 34-yard line. Williams almost got to Tannehill a third time on the final Hail Mary attempt of the game, but Tannehill escaped and got the pass off right before Williams hit him for a second time on the play. The pass was easily batted down.
At times this year Williams has been downright dominating. He’s shown a first step and drive that I don’t recall seeing all of last year. He’s running over offensive linemen and becoming a match-up nightmare. Just today he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. He’s a totally different player than he was last season. Is it just a matter of getting comfortable? Is it the better locker room atmosphere? Or is it the wrist being fully healed? Whatever it is the Bills are just glad that they are getting the player that they envisioned when they signed him.