At first, it was a neat little story.
When the Jets were awarded linebacker Quincy Williams off waivers on the first day of September, it was a footnote. Williams had just been cut by the Jaguars. Ho-hum. Another transient, bottom-of-roster player who may or may not last two weeks.
But Quincy is the older brother of Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, so this was a reuniting of 23-year-old Quinnen, a first-round draft pick by the Jets in 2019, and 25-year-old Quincy, a third-round pick by Jacksonville in 2019. Last time they played together was at Wenonah High School in Birmingham, Ala.
Neat little story.
As for whether anyone truly expected Quincy to have an impact, having been cut by the worst team in the league, that surely was a reach.
Yet, a little more than a month into this season — which for the 1-3 Jets continues with Sunday’s game against the 1-3 Falcons in London — the brothers have combined to form quite a powerful force.
In the Jets’ 27-24 overtime win against the Titans on Sunday, both Quinnen and Quincy registered sacks against Ryan Tannehill, and they made history, becoming the first brother tandem with sacks in the same game for the same team since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. Overall, they combined for 19 tackles in the game.
Suddenly, the neat little story has turned into kind of a big deal.
In that win, Quincy recorded his first double-digit tackle game in the NFL with 12, the sack was his first as a pro, and he had another tackle for loss on a reception and a pass defensed.
Making the day even more special at MetLife Stadium was the presence of Yvarta Henderson, the grandmother of Quinnen and Quincy, who sat front row in the stands to watch the two young men she helped raise after their mother, Marquischa Henderson, died from breast cancer in 2010 at the age of 37.
“It was the first game that my grandmother had a chance to go to,’’ Quincy said Thursday.
At the game, the Williams brothers found their grandmother in the stands and did a Lambeau leap of sorts to give her a hug.
“Just letting her know that we were very thankful and the reason we were there was because of her keeping her eyes on us,’’ Quincy said.
After being inactive for the season opener, Quincy has asserted himself into the starting lineup, with 11 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss, against the Patriots and Broncos, then the big game last Sunday.
Quinnen, after the game, called seeing his brother’s career-best performance “dope, just knowing that he got his first sack. I try to get sacks every week. That’s my job.”
Quinnen has done a pretty good job of that so far with 3.5 sacks, six quarterback hits and three tackles for loss in four games.
“It’s extremely cool to see two brothers have as much success as they’re having,’’ defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said Thursday. “I think they’re just starting to show everybody a glimpse of what they’re capable of.’’
Quinnen, out of Alabama, is the more polished talent of the two. Quincy, who’s had a month to learn the Jets’ system, has made a lot of his big plays with reckless abandon.
“Is he perfect? Not close,’’ Ulbrich said. “He’s got so much more room to grow, but we’re so excited about what he can become.’’
The Jets want Quincy to be more dialed into their scheme, but they don’t want to curb his enthusiasm to deliver monster hits.
“It would be a shame if we ever stole that from him,’’ Ulbrich said. “Does he need to be more controlled at times? Yes. But at the same time, that’s his superpower, and you never want to take that from him.
“He’s continuing to get better. Who knows how good he can be? I really look him as a guy that can be one of the top ’backers in the NFL if he wants to be and is committed to it and he stays healthy.’’
Moving in with Quinnen and watching film together at home and listening to Quinnen’s constructive criticism has unquestionably made Quincy a better player.
“I think there’s a little different level of accountability because of the relationship they have, because Quinnen has a different level of honesty and transparency with him than [Quincy] might not have had in Jacksonville,’’ Ulbrich said.
“The biggest thing is his honesty, for real,’’ Quincy said of Quinnen. “[Criticism] coming from someone [else], that person doesn’t really know you and you feel like they’re kind of targeting you. When it’s coming from a person you live with and been around your whole life, criticism is different. He’s like my hardest critic. I love it. We kind of go hand-in-hand with each other.’’