New York Giants: Is Leonard Williams playing better than expected?

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The New York Giants are signed defensive lineman Leonard Williams to a monstrous contract extension this offseason after a career-year in 2020. Williams totaled 11 sacks last season. Through the first five weeks of this season, Williams has only posted one sack. This has led to an abundance of criticism from fans and writers.

However, upon further inspection, some of the criticism toward Leonard Williams might be unfair. Sure, the sack total could be higher, but if we compare the start of Leonard’s 2021 season to the start of his 2020 season, the numbers might surprise.

Leonard Williams 2020 vs 2021

Through the first five weeks of the 2020 NFL season, Leonard Williams totaled: 19 Tackles, 4 TFL, 4 QB Hits, and 2.0 Sacks. 2020 ended up being a career-year for Big Cat. Williams’s stellar 2020 performance earned him a three-year $63M contract. Fans do not feel as though Leonard is living up to his $21M per-year price tag.

Leonard Williams has totaled 26 Tackles, 2 TFL, 4 QB Hits, 1.5 and Sacks through the first five weeks of the 2021 season. These stats compare quite closely to the stats from Leo’s 2020 season.

It is a long season, and there is no guarantee that Leonard Williams will finish the year with stats that compare so nicely to last season. However, Big Cat is making a greater impact than fans are giving him credit for, and he is making that impact despite getting double and triple-teamed:

Leonard Williams is not the biggest problem with the Giants’ pass rush. He gets paid more than anyone on the team’s defense, so he is subject to criticism. However, the numbers show that Leo is doing his job. It is the pass-rushers around Leonard Williams that are failing the New York Giants’ defense.
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