Jamal Williams is an elite nose guard anchoring the middle of our defense. The notion that he isn't what he once was is both without substance and merit. These ideas about him are simply echoed from a chamber located in Southern California. Those starting the echo chamber are a jealous enemy, nothing more. At least these are my thoughts. Let's see if I can convince you of the same...
Jamal Williams isn't a young man, but he's also not in need of a walking cane. He's 34, big wow. The average age for a starter in the middle of a 34 is 31. Nine of the thirteen 3-4 teams in this league employ a starter in the middle who is 30 or older (Bryan Robinson, Kelly Gregg, Shaun Rogers, Jamal Williams, Ryan Pickett, Edwards, Ferguson, Jenkins, and Hampton).
All Jamal wants to do is win a MF Game, and a couple against the Chargers - his old team and the fans who are likely the ones blowing all of this "injury-prone, old man", status out of proportion.
Yes, it's true that this bear-of-a-man had some trouble getting on and staying on the field during the early part of his career. During those first five years ('98 to '02), he only averaged about six starts per year (31 total). Part of that was due to him being a rookie and new, and part was due to injuries. But 2002 was the breaking point when he got healthy and stayed on the field. Since then and through 2008, his next six years in the league averaged him fifteen starts per season. Gentlemen, read that again. He only missed an average of one game per year during that span. That's better than pretty much all of the good Ole boys (Gregg - 13, Robinson - 12, Rogers - 14, Ferguson - 11, Hampton - 13).
Let's take that idea another step: Our "old man" has less total starts than nearly all of those guys I just mentioned. In fact, Robinson has two full seasons worth of starts over what our boy has. Even the relative pup, Shaun Rogers, edges out our own J-Will in total starts. And keep in mind, even though Jamal has less total starts, he's been more reliable than each of them (average starts since '03, except last year).
Defensive linemen are warriors. The more battles they fight, the less fight they have in them. And Jamal has generally been a two-down player, a run-stopper, whereas some of these other NT's play more downs (like Shaun Rogers). And again, it seems logical to think that the more energy saved, the longer they last. It's important to also remember that Jamal hasn't been in battle since game-one of last year, and he came into camp with Coach McDaniels raving about the great shape and weight he was in. I want to underline that for a moment: When a reciever loses a year of route running and pass catching with his QB it's considered a minus, but when a veteran nose guard gets an extra fifteen games off, it might as well be considered a vacation.
Oh, and as for his injury - the injury that cost him his six-season streak of averaging 15 starts - it was a mere triceps injury. Not a blown out knee or a big toe. It's something you punch with, not stand on. It's not the sort of injury that presents much of a risk moving forward. So I repeat, he got a vacation and came in rested.
More in the tank? How much more does he have left? I get so awefully tired of that line of questioning. How much does Shaun Rogers have left in the tank? He's started more games, plays far more snaps in those games, and nobody even questions a guy like that. Why? Well, maybe it's because he didn't just get traded to the Broncos. He's not on a team with an old secondary like ours. Nobody cares about the Browns. There's no controversy with who they've been bringing in. I don't know, you tell me.
Now let me just for a moment mention, for those who don't know, just how good Jamal Williams was. Which as it turns out, is exactly how good I expect him to be 2010... Elite. That's right, I said it. Elite. It's hard to really illustrate or support a claim like that when referring to a position such as DL, since it's not really a "stat" position. My best attempt is to say that Pro Football Focus ranks him as the #1 overall NT in 2008 and the #1 run-stuffing defensive lineman overall. In 2007, J-Will ranks 4th against other NT's overall and 3rd against the run. That's as far back as PFF goes. And notice I didn't include 2009 - Jamal was on recuperation vacation.
So to sum this mamouth man's situation up, Jamal Williams was an elite nose tackle averaging 15 starts per year from 2003 to 2008. He then had a triceps injury in 2009 and got a fifteen game rest & recuperation period for it. He's now a well rested and re-energized Denver Bronco. J-Will is only a few years above the average age for starting NT's and has less starts than many of the others. So the next time you hear someone imply that Jamal Williams walks with a cane and is no longer a great player, just close your ears and don't repeat their nonsense. They're probably getting their information from a jealous enemy - the team we stole him from.
Be excited, be very excited to watch him go at his old team. I know I am.