Last week, the Seattle Seahawks lost impact defender Uchenna Nwosu for the remainder of the season due to a torn pec. In response to that loss, John Schneider went ahead and traded for one of the NFL’s better defensive linemen in Leonard Williams. It is not a like for like swap in terms of position. However, from a production standpoint, Williams will step in seamlessly. Since the start of the 2020 season (when he signed with the New York Giants), Williams has amassed 22 sacks, 25 tackles for loss, and 61 QB hits. Over that time, Nwosu 21 sacks, 29 tackles for loss, and 60 QB hits. Down below we are going to break down what has allowed Williams to produce at such a high rate.
Do you agree this was roughing the passer on Leonard Williams….? pic.twitter.com/djRcE3Mf4N— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 22, 2023
On this play, which for the record I have no idea what Williams is supposed to do to avoid a roughing the passer penalty, he uses a quick and strong swipe move to get home on Brock Purdy. Traditional wisdom is when offensive linemen go high, defensive linemen should counter with rips, but Williams’ hands are quick and strong enough to allow him to swipe.
This is such a beautiful push-and-pull move by Williams. It is not a move he uses often but when he uses it, it has the potential to be devastating. He accurately strikes Connor McGovern square in the chest and sets him back at the point of contact which starts the move. He then pulls him forward and goes over the type with a swim move which allows him to get into the backfield for the easy sack on Andy Dalton.
Leonard Williams spin move sack on Geno Smith pic.twitter.com/ivOsqMIunE— Parker (@ParkerLewisNFL) October 30, 2023
One of the things that Williams excels at as a pass rusher is his counter game. With a lot of pass rushers, especially interior defensive linemen, once their first pass rush move does not work they do not have a chance at getting to the quarterback. That is not the case with Williams though. He has a deep counter game and is able to adapt on most rushes. On this play we can see Williams original intention is to swipe the hands of the right guard and split him and the center. However, the center is over in time which forces Leonard up field. After a couple of steps up field, Williams counters with a quick spin move to the inside for the sack on Geno Smith.
Leonard Williams controlling his gap. @leonardwilliams strikes/stands up his blocker with violent hands & hips.— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) May 8, 2022
He gets extended, posts, peeks & forces the RB to cut back. Williams snatch/swims cross face & makes the tackle! #stoptherun #nygiants pic.twitter.com/rUHCo6DSxC
Perhaps this Baldy’s breakdown clip of Leonard Williams will cheer you up pic.twitter.com/zSopfJb5vw— Parker (@ParkerLewisNFL) October 30, 2023
Williams’ impact in the running game is massive. He is strong enough to eat up space by taking on blockers, but he also has the speed and smarts to get off of them as well. In the first Tweet, Williams gets his arms extended against the blocker which allows him to two gap and control the tempo of the block. He keeps his eyes in the backfield on Ezekiel Elliott, then once he recognizes where the run is going he sheds off of the offensive lineman and gets the tackle.
This is another fantastic all around play by Leonard Williams. Not only does he beat the offensive lineman at the point of contact with a fantastic swim move, but he is also able to chase down the running back from behind and pick up the tackle for loss. With the Seahawks set to face Christian McCaffrey, Tony Pollard, Deandre Swift and Derrick Henry among others this regular season, impact plays like this one in the running game are going to be integral if Seattle wants to continue stacking wins.