Nick Williams was only active for two games for the Bears in 2018. Yet, he has developed into one of their more impactful defenders to start the 2019 season.
The 29-year-old Williams has racked up four sacks in the past three games for the Bears, and he has been a force as both a pass rusher and as a run defender. With the likes of Bilal Nichols and Akiem Hicks having missed time due to injuries early in the year, he has taken plenty of snaps and made the most of them.
Though he isn’t one of the defense’s flashier names like Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson or Kyle Fuller, Williams has quietly been playing at a high level along the interior defensive line. His two sacks and seven tackles against the Vikings helped the Bears shut down Dalvin Cook, who led the NFL in rushing yards heading into the game.
Williams’ performances to start the year were the subject of my latest Twitter thread, in which I broke down some of the impactful plays he has made thus far. Williams himself has even gone through the thread and liked the tweets, so check them out for yourself:
THREAD: Let’s talk about Nick Williams (@NickWilliams_98). Coming into this year with zero career sacks, the 29-year-old has four sacks in his last three games for the #Bears and has been a force to be reckoned with. @WCGridiron— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 1, 2019
Williams gets double teamed to start, but he powers through and is quick to diagnose the play, as he turns his hips towards the runner within the first second of play. He maintains good hand placement and pad level against the left tackle and makes the play in space. #Bears pic.twitter.com/oL05PLOUGJ— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 1, 2019
Williams lines up as the nose tackle here. He overwhelms the center with his speed-to-power conversion and gets his hands inside of the blocker. He shoves the center away and shows the athleticism to make a play in space. #Bears pic.twitter.com/g58y0Fly5O— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 1, 2019
As the 2i here, Williams does a good job of maintaining leverage with his outside arm and keeping his inside arm free to make the tackle. When Dalvin Cook bounces inside, Williams’ brute strength allows him to switch arms and free himself to plug up the hole. #Bears pic.twitter.com/wlXAkSEGHT— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 1, 2019
Williams dominates from the 3-tech spot here with a nasty bull-rip combo, absolutely manhandling the guard. The guard tries to knock him into the center to stall his momentum, but it backfires and Williams becomes free to sack Kirk Cousins. #Bears pic.twitter.com/LjHNV5QTf4— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 1, 2019
As the 2i, Williams does well in the limited engagement he gets with blockers, but the left guard choosing to double team Abdullah Anderson frees Williams up in space. Cousins climbs the pocket and runs right into Williams. #Bears pic.twitter.com/3z5JYcsm3e— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 1, 2019
Going back to the Denver game, Williams works with the flow of the defense well while defending the outside zone run. When Phillip Lindsay cuts inside, Williams uses his outside arm to redirect the blocker and plug up the lane. #Bears pic.twitter.com/3j6VaAoRud— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 1, 2019
On this sack, Williams again does a great job of resetting his hands and freeing the play-side arm up to disengage. He rushes with good pad level and is able to read Joe Flacco as he starts to scramble to pick up the sack. #Bears pic.twitter.com/9f6SU5MHeB— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 1, 2019
On this run play against Washington, Williams lines up as a 3-tech. He executes his assignment perfectly, stunting to the C gap and showing off the athleticism to fill up the hole before Chris Thompson can run through it. #Bears pic.twitter.com/TbDTO6vMF5— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 1, 2019
Here’s another play showing off the underrated athleticism of Williams. Here, he’s quick to diagnose the screen and quickly rolls out to chase Adrian Peterson and bring him down. With several #Bears defenders having read the screen quickly, this play was doomed. pic.twitter.com/SryW5hm2we— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 1, 2019
On this play, Williams and Khalil Mack run a stunt, and Williams uses a swim move to disengage with the right guard. He shows off impressive ability to turn the corner for a 310-pound man, and he chases down Case Keenum for the sack. #Bears pic.twitter.com/Yikewd76OC— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 1, 2019
Overall, Nick Williams has been a pleasant surprise so far this year. He has improved immensely and has helped make this #Bears d-line even more dangerous.— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 1, 2019
Like many on here have said, kudos to Bears d-line coach Jay Rodgers for helping him take the next step.
Williams has already proven he can take valuable reps with Hicks healthy, but his hot start to the season makes it likely the Bears will still have a role for him when Nichols comes back from injury.
The veteran is currently playing on a one-year deal that will earn him $895,000 this year. If he keeps up his high level of play, he could be in for a much bigger payday next offseason.