When Mario Williams was let go from the Buffalo Bills, it was widely reported that the biggest reason for his drop off from years past was that he didn't like the role he was given in Rex Ryan's defense, often being forced to drop back into coverage.
In Vance Joseph's defense, that doesn't seem to be a problem, as Williams talked about learning the new scheme and what it entails.
"He’s really relying on the guys up front to turn it loose and get after it, which is what most of us (are) accustomed to doing." Williams said. "The difficult part is changing old habits in general, especially with the new acquisitions and stuff that we have. We’re players who have done different things in the past as far as schemes and stuff like that, but it’s exciting to cut it loose, turn loose.”
All indications are that there is going to be a heavy emphasis on rushing the passer, as the Dolphins apparently plan to utilize a Wide-9 scheme, which is meant specifically to improve the pass-rush by allowing the defensive ends to line up outside the ends of the offensive line and angle themselves so they're directly facing the quarterback.
Williams has made it clear time and time again that his greatest desire is to attack the quarterback. It's what he's made a career out of, it's what he excels at, and with Vance Joseph, he's going to get to do just that.
"I think the biggest focal point and (what is) exciting for us is knowing that (we can) cut it loose." he said. "It’s almost like saying, ‘Go! Every time, just go. We’re going to put you in the best position for you to get after it and everything else is going to trickle downhill from there.’"
Rushing the passer was a huge issue for the Dolphins last year, as the team combined for a total of 31 sacks in 2015, tying for 25th in the league with Dallas and New Orleans. In 2014 they ranked 16th in sacks with 39.
Seven of the team's 31 sacks came from Cameron Wake, who after only seven games went down with an achilles tendon tear. All indications so far are that Wake is ahead of schedule in his rehab and should be ready to go when the regular season rolls around.
Williams is excited to be playing opposite a player of his caliber.
“I think it’s going to be great." Williams said. "His ability and over the years with his career, he’s definitely caused a lot of havoc. I think being able to play alongside of him, it’s going to make it, I guess you could say a little bit easier. This is the NFL, but it’s going to make it a little bit easier for the guys across the front, the guys in the back end (and) the whole defense.”
Per the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson, Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan recently said that the Dolphins are giving Mario Williams "everything he wants," letting him line up as a 4-3 DE rather than a 3-4 LB. In Ryan's scheme, Williams only accumulated 19 tackles and five sacks after having double digit sacks the previous three years.
So naturally there's going to be a lingering question: was Mario Williams' major drop off a result of Ryan's scheme, or is the 31-year old pass-rusher starting to slow down?
This was Williams answer to the question.
“I think first and foremost, at the end of the day you have to believe in yourself and believe in your ability. It’s not about saying you’re over-confident or anything like that. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, then you’re not going to be good at it at all. And by all means, I know that with what we have surrounding (the) defense and what the coaching staff is implementing, it gives (you) the opportunity to go out and show that (and) show what you believe is reality. I look forward to it.”
Williams has called Vance Joseph's defense an "attitude defense," he's cited the fact that he'll get to attack the QB like he's always wanted, and now he'll get the chance to prove that last season was nothing more than a fluke. But can he really do it?
“Oh, yes." said DT Jordan Phillips. "He’s a freak. Freak of a man.”
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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