Kevin Williams had a turn-back-the-clock game Thursday night against Washington, producing 2.5 sacks on a season-high 64 snaps. For one night at least K-Will looked like the Williams of six or seven years ago when, along with his defensive tackle cohort Pat Williams, he became famed as one half of the impenetrable Williams Wall.
What made Williams’ performance Thursday night notable wasn’t just the level of production, it was where he lined up on the line to get those 2.5 sacks. Because of injuries to nose tackles Letroy Guion and Fred Evans, the Vikings were forced to patch together their defensive line, calling on certain guys to play out of position. Williams answered the call, shifting over from his familiar 3-tech spot to nose tackle.
Lo and behold, Williams went berserk lining up at the one-tech, tearing through Washington blockers and terrorizing Robert Griffin III. The 2.5 sacks all came with Williams lining up at the nose. The pass rush provided by Williams and his D-line buddies was huge in the second half with the Vikings clinging to a narrow lead. Had RG3 been given time to operate, no doubt he and Pierre Garcon would’ve shredded the secondary and probably won the game for Washington.
This begs the question: why the heck didn’t the Vikings try Williams at the nose sooner? Superficially at least, it would seem to have been a sensible move. The 3-tech is all about quickness and explosion, two attributes Williams once had in abundance but now no longer possesses to the same degree. What Williams does have is veteran savvy, and yes he can still occasionally beat a guy with his burst. So maybe the nose would be a better spot for him at this point in his career.
At 6-5, 311 Williams doesn’t look the part of a classic fat, stumpy nose tackle, but that’s okay cause the Vikings don’t really want that type. Traditionally the nose tackle spot has been the domain of the big huge space-occupying anchor-sort, but in recent years the Vikings have moved away from that model and gone to the smaller more penetrating, disruptive sort of player. At least that has been their theory; with Letroy Guion as the starter, they haven’t always gotten the production to justify the approach.
But on Thursday night with Williams lining up primarily at the nose, the Vikings finally saw some of what they’ve been hoping for from their Guion-Fred Evans rotation. Big-time penetration, big-time up-the-middle pass rush to complement the outside rush from Jared Allen and Brian Robison.
After watching Williams go to work against RG3 and the Redskins, you have to hope the Vikings will now look to get Williams more snaps at the nose, with Sharrif Floyd getting more action at the 3-tech. But if we know anything about Leslie Frazier and Alan Williams, it’s that they really don’t like benching guys due to injury. So that means Letroy Guion and Fred Evans will probably be back rotating at the nose once they’re healthy, and Kevin will go back to undertackle.
God forbid you should stick with something that works. It’s all about loyalty regardless of results. Maybe the coaches will break from their tired, dogmatic approach this once and roll with what has been proven to be effective on the field. Hopefully.