The years change, but the headlines remain largely the same. The Buffalo Bills in December are never quite bad enough to be out of it, but are only barely eligible to stay on those “In the Hunt” graphics that the networks show, a reminder of how far away they actually are from the postseason, but how close they can be led to believe they are. In situations like these, players often shut it down for the season, playing for health and their next contract. Veterans showing substantial wear-and-tear play fewer snaps, preparing to ride off into another offseason, allowing younger players to wet their feet in anticipation of larger roles the following season.
Not Kyle Williams.
After missing the game versus Pittsburgh due to an injured back, Williams was back in full force on Sunday, playing on 71% of the team’s snaps, contributing 1.5 sacks and 3 tackles. That sack moved Williams to 7th all-time in Buffalo history in the category. Not bad for a 5th round draft pick in 2006 who has survived 6 different head coach/defensive coordinator combinations in his career.
Against Oakland, Williams played on 86% of the snaps. For the season, he’s played 74% of the team’s snaps, easily the highest among Bills’ defensive linemen (unless you count Jerry Hughes as a DE instead of an OLB; if that’s the case, Williams is second to Hughes’s 81%). As usual, Williams has shown himself to be a consummate professional, working hard play after play, and representing the organization, the city, and the team’s fans in stellar fashion.
Jerry Sullivan wrote a fantastic piece last night about Williams; it’s well worth your time. Most notable is Sullivan’s speculation that Williams’s “lingering dismay” over missing the Pittsburgh game could be due to the fact that he had to witness some of Buffalo’s players not giving as much effort as he would have himself. Buffalo’s 33-13 shellacking of a hapless Browns team does little to raise the chances of a playoff berth, but the inspired play of men like Williams shows that the veterans in the locker room will not allow the team to quit in the final act of the season.
With the business of the NFL the way it is, and the devastating effects on the human body that the game causes, it’s uncertain how much more time we have as Bills’ fans to watch Kyle Williams don the red, white, and blue. For my part, I know that I am not looking forward to the end of this era. Players with Williams’s heart and desire don’t come around often. We should enjoy watching each snap he plays for as long as we can.