New York Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams can now concentrate on football. He’s fully vaccinated and no longer has a contract showdown hanging over his head by virtue of him signing a three-year, $63 million extension with Big Blue this offseason.
The pressure for him to produce is still very much on but Williams isn’t letting the outside “noise” affect his approach to the job.
“I think that’s something that I’m working on the most right now is the same thing I did last year that helped me get such a good season was just ignoring noise,” Williams told reporters on Wednesday.
“Just like guys were doubting me last season and I was able to ignore them and focus on my process and just focus on what would make me a better player. It’s the same thing I have to do now when people are praising me saying that I did so well and are expecting great things out of me, I just have to keep ignoring the noise and focus on my everyday process.”
Williams is the leader of the Giants’ defensive front, if not the entire defense. His career-best 11.5 sacks last year put him in the elite group of NFL defensive linemen.
A lot has changed since Williams got here a year and a half ago. The line — and the defense in general — has undergone some changes. Dalvin Tomlinson left via free agency and B.J. Hill was traded this week. Williams still has Dexter Lawrence next to him, and Austin Johnson, but will be surrounded by some new faces in Danny Shelton and Raymond Johnson III.
“Yeah, Dalvin was obviously a big piece of our defense, but that’s the way the game goes,” Williams said. “He moved on and I think we definitely have guys — AJ, we brought in Danny. Dex is really stout upfront. I think I’m pretty stout in the run game, as well. I think we have great linebackers that play downhill, as well. I think we’ll be fine.”
The Giants will still rely on Williams to be their primary pass rusher. The second leg to that plan is based on defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme. Williams know this and believes things will work out if everyone does their job.
“I think it all has to play in together. It has to be a combination of scheme and the player doing their job — and not just the player, all the other 10 guys doing their job as well,” Williams said. “I rely on those back guys to cover their receivers and their alignments to have time to rush, just as much I rely on Pat Graham to call the right calls in the right situation, just as much as Pat relies on me to beat my one-on-one when the time is right. I think it’s a combination and that’s what makes the game such a team sport.”