LANDOVER, Md. — Mario Williams missed most of last week with an illness. Considering his public unhappiness with the Buffalo Bills' defensive scheme and the fact that he might be cut this off-season at his $19.9 million salary cap number, this raised eyebrows outside the building with fans.
Could Williams be checking out? What is the extent of the illness? Those questions only multiplied Sunday morning with an ESPN report citing that not everyone believed Williams was actually sick.
At his locker, following a 35-25 loss to the Washington Redskins, the veteran didn't hold back when told of the anonymous source.
"Are we going to have insurgents around? How old are we around here?" Williams said. "I don't know. I guess there's a bunch of younger people I didn't realize in that building. I don't see how that happened.
"I don't go off of no-names. That's not adults so I'm not worried about that."
Coach Rex Ryan said there could be drastic changes coming this off-season and one logical change would be to release Williams and free up money. He hasn't been a fit in Ryan's 3-4 defense with only four sacks this season. And on Sunday, Williams was a total non-factor with only one assisted tackle and no hits on Kirk Cousins. He says it's "obvious" changes are coming, adding, "You just wait and see if your number's called."
What really had Williams upset after the game was the fact that the Bills, under Ryan, try to match personnel with teams. They're subbing players in and and out based on who's in the offensive huddle. This constant change can lead to over-thinking and a lack of flow.
To Williams, it doesn't make sense to talk tough and "build a bully" by always, play to play, reacting to what the offense is doing.
"It's crazy," Williams said. "Once again, you saw the game and you're trying to switch personnel as they're coming out of the huddle. I don't know, man. I don't know who in the world is saying what personnel they're in or how it's that confusing but apparently it is because game in and game out. ... My mind-set is if you're an attack defense, if you're a bully on the field you don't let anything else dictate what you do. We're going to put who we put out there and then we're going to be able to execute and make plays with the guys out there. I don't need to wait on you to make a decision.
"We're trying to switch men. It's not like we're trying to switch plays. We're trying to switch men as they're coming out of the huddle. That's happened a few times in 10 years with me. A few times. That's 10 years. But game in and game out, I don't know how in the world it keeps happening."
So... maybe the question really should be if Williams even wants to be in Buffalo next season.
This isn't the first time he has called out Ryan publicly. He was asked this question directly.
"At the end of the day, I want to go wherever we can go and win," Williams said. "That's how I see it. And I know we can win here. That's 100. I know we can win here. Now, me personally, if I don't fit in the scheme, if it's just me and it's obvious it's just me, then so be it. But if it's continuity across the board as far as how things are unfolding, then that's not my decision still. But, hey, you can blame me for everything. That's fine."
Staying in Buffalo would likely require a pay cut and Williams doesn't sound like a player ready to take that pay cut, either.
"If this is the turnout of our defense, how does that even sound right?" Williams said. "You can change. People are afraid of change and so forth. I'm all for it because at the end of the day, if it works, so be it. I don't need to sit here and say, 'I wish Jerry had 15 sacks, Marcell had 15 sacks, I had 15 sacks across the board.' If we're winning, if we're 10-4 or whatever, hey, hats off. But if it doesn't work, yeah, there needs to be a different change.
"If one person is singled out as that needs to be done, so be it. That's not my decision."