Defensive end Mario Williams will make his much-anticipated Buffalo Bills debut Sunday against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Buffalo paid Williams $100 million to make a big impact, and Week 1 appears to be a favorable matchup on paper.
Williams, a two-time Pro Bowler, will face a Jets offensive line that was shaky in the preseason. New York has played musical chairs at right tackle and will start relative unknown Austin Howard, who will see a lot of Williams on Sunday.
Can the Jets keep Williams off starting quarterback Mark Sanchez? Howard beat out former Jet Wayne Hunter for the starting job and could need a lot of assistance from his running backs and tight ends to block Williams on Sunday.
"We're expecting Austin to play well against someone who is very talented," Sanchez said this week. "A guy like Mario Williams, he’s a game-changing type player. It’s important to block him up and get rid of the football."
Buffalo's defensive line of Williams, Mark Anderson, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus is one of the most formidable in the NFL. The Bills are taking the approach of trying to dominate in the trenches this year.
"We are trying to rush four straight and get it done," Mario Williams said this week. "The biggest thing is we have some pretty good guys over here on this side of the ball that can get after the quarterback. We just want to go out and put pressure with four. That is the goal. I think that is what anybody’s goal is actually. If you can put pressure with four, you have a lot better chance at winning games."
An interesting wrinkle is former Bills draft bust Aaron Maybin is simulating Mario Williams in practice for New York this week.
Maybin was not popular in Buffalo because he underperformed, but the former first-round pick has been much improved since joining the Jets. Maybin tied for the Jets lead with six sacks last year and is doing his best to prepare Howard and the Jets' offensive line.
"I'm pretty much faster than him," Maybin said laughing. "For him, somebody that’s 300 pounds, to be able to move at that speed, is pretty ridiculous. It’s hard to really simulate that size moving at that speed. But at least if they can see somebody like myself out there during the week, it will have them a little bit more prepared for how fast things are going to be moving in the game."