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NY Jets Saturday Spotlight

Marcus Williams, come on down!

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Saturday Spotlight. Ordinarily it's the Friday Spotlight, but with the Jets playing on Monday Night Football this week, everything is pushed back a day.  Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week. Today's player in the spotlight is cornerback Marcus Williams.  Williams is a 5' 11", 196 pound, 24 year old cornerback out of North Dakota State.  He was originally signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2014, was subsequently cut by the Texans and ultimately signed by the Jets.  Williams went undrafted largely because of his small school background and his mediocre timed 40 speed (4.57).  His production in college was impressive, albeit at a lesser level of competition, with 21 interceptions and 60 passes defended in four years at North Dakota State.

Williams was picked up by the Jets after injuries and other circumstances sidelined most of the cornerbacks the Jets had been relying on coming into training camp.  Williams made his NFL and Jets debut and was immediately thrust into the starting lineup on November 2, 2014, in the ninth game of the season.  He was serviceable, if not great, and seemed to improve as the season wore on.  Williams started every remaining game in 2014 once he was inserted into the lineup, but in 2015 he was once again an afterthought after the Jets brought in three accomplished veterans to man the cornerback position in free agency.

Fortune, however, once again quickly opened a spot for Williams, as starter Antonio Cromartie went down with a sprained knee in the season opener.  Williams seized the opportunity with both hands, making a crucial interception as the new starting cornerback.

Here are Marcus Williams' NFL statistics in his short NFL career:



Passes Defended

















The seven passes defended in 2014 were good for second on the team last year, in only eight games played.
This week's game against the Colts offers the Jets an opportunity for a big road win against a quality opponent.  Win and the Jets establish themselves as early contenders for a playoff spot.   The Jets have many advantages in this contest, but the Colts one overwhelming advantage is at the quarterback position, where budding superstar Andrew Luck locks down the position for the Colts.  All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis should be able to more than hold his own on one side of the field.  That leaves Marcus Williams on the other side as the obvious target for Luck to test early and often in this game.  Expect Williams to be picked on repeatedly.  How he answers the challenge will go a long way towards establishing the victor in this contest.  Depending on the health of T.Y. Hilton, Williams will likely be matched up against either aging star Andre Johnson or emerging threat Donte Moncrief.  Johnson presents challenges as a declining but big, savvy and still dangerous veteran, while Moncrief is much less polished but an athletic freak who presents immense physical matchup problems of his own.
If Williams can hold his own against Johnson and/or Moncrief and Revis performs like Revis, then Luck will have a tough day at the office and the Jets' chances of victory will be considerably enhanced.  With Luck often good for an interception or two, Williams could really help the cause with another pickoff at a crucial moment.  On the other hand if Williams proves to be unable to match Johnson and/or Moncrief, Luck will likely pick on Williams all night long, making for a long and likely fruitless night for Williams and the Jets.

Marcus Williams was unheralded and undrafted coming out of college.  He needed a series of bad breaks to Jets cornerbacks to even get a chance to play last year.  After proving himself in the final eight games of the year, he saw the Jets load up at the position in  the offseason, once again relegating him to the back of the bench in 2015.  Yet fortune's fickle finger has once again opened an opportunity for Marcus Williams, this time on the national stage against one the game's best young quarterbacks.  With Cromartie far from a lock to even be on the roster in 2016, this is Marcus Williams' moment to shine.  This is his time to make a statement.  This is his time to show the Jets that he can be the long term answer opposite Revis.

One would not have thought Marcus Williams would have any chance to be a game changer for the Jets going into the 2015 season, but here he is and the opportunity is there for the taking.   This is Marcus Williams' time in the spotlight.  Let's hope he shines bright on Monday Night.