Beyond the Boxscore
Mario Williams could care less about winning: Hoodwinked Buffalo will regretsigning more than Texans
Mario Williams is a different type of NFL defensive star. There is no mean in Mario, no playing on the edge.
This is a guy who loves his collection of high-speed sports cars. And a guy who has shown plenty of love for the Houston Police Department (if Williams had more look-at-me Shaq in him, he'd be talking about becoming a sheriff in retirement). He's a good guy, a stand-up guy. But he hardly fits the mold of a cold-blooded destroyer. Ray Lewis would never recognize Mario's approach to football, let alone Dick Butkus.
The vocal players on this Bulls On Parade Houston Texans defense love Williams because he's productive and such a good dude. But Williams never got into the slapstick hijinks of Connor Barwin, Shaun Cody and Antonio Smith. Or the frothing intensity. He's not as doggedly determined to get better as J.J. Watt.
Mario Williams has played six seasons in the NFL and he's never been one of the Top 10 defensive players in the league in any one of those seasons.
He's Mario, the calm man with talent to spare.
And somehow that good dude is now the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.
Something doesn't add up here — something that is going to come back and haunt the Buffalo Bills, who spent as foolishly as that degenerate gambler in Luck on this one.
Mario Williams has played six seasons in the NFL and he's never been one of the Top 10 defensive players in the league in any one of those seasons. But now he's making the most of anyone on that side of the ball ever, a cool $100 million.
This is the kind of unthinking free agent spending that ends up setting a franchise back for years. And in the end, it really couldn't have ended up working out much better for the Texans. If they had to lose Mario — and they did at this price — he couldn't have ended up in a more convenient exile.
For that's exactly what Buffalo represents in today's NFL. You go to the Bills to disappear — and play in Toronto two times a year.
Buffalo has not made the playoffs in 12 seasons and Mario Williams isn't about to change that.
This idea that adding Williams vaults the Bills past the New York Jets into second place in the AFC East is laughable. The Bills are still third in the division, behind both New England and New York. And they might be in a dogfight for that third spot if Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins turn their Peyton Manning tears into Matt Flynn.
Of all the places Williams could have landed, this works out well for the Texans.
The Bills are not a real threat in the AFC. If the Texans get blocked during this Super Bowl window, it won't be because of anything that happens in the Nickel City. But imagine if Williams ended up somewhere like Tennessee or even New England. Then, Houston general manager Rick Smith is sweating and owner Bob McNair is wondering what's going on.
But Buffalo . . . that's all right. And it seems perfectly right for Mario.
Williams has never been a guy who gives off the feeling that he yearns to win above all. He's not Andre Johnson dying to get into the playoffs — and coming up big when he finally does. Mario is Mario. A cool dude who will be fine with however things turn out for the team in Buffalo.
"There's no pressure," Williams said at one point during his introductory press conference in Buffalo Thursday. It's the perfect Mario statement. Even when Buffalo fans start growing restless, when Williams fails to come close to being the next Bruce Smith, when he doesn't put up crazy sacks numbers (he's only reached double digits in sacks in two of his six seasons, DeMarcus Ware he's not), Williams will be able to brush it off.
Mario will find solace in his dazzling cars, his beautiful life and that $100 million.
Williams went for the money and who can blame him? It screams out as the right call for this player, for this personality. It's not Mario's fault that Buffalo over reached and made a good, but never great, pass rusher the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.
Another Man Down
The Texans will feel Mario's loss. Make no mistake, Houston's own Super Bowl quest got a little bit harder. Defensive miracle worker Wade Phillips has one less talented piece to work with.
The Bills are not a real threat in the AFC. If the Texans get blocked during this Super Bowl window, it won't be because of anything that happens in the Nickel City.
The Bulls On Parade played dominant in the playoffs without Williams, but they'd be that much better with him.
On the day the Texans held a press conference to celebrate re-signing game-changing tailback Arian Foster for $43 million (which looks more and more like a bargain with every ridiculous stratospheric signing), I happened to run across Phillips on his way into Reliant. The coach — who looked great and healthy — couldn't stop smiling.
You have to wonder if Phillips is still smiling now though.
Phillips could have done some great things with Williams. Mario could have had a Jared-Allen-type season playing in Phillips' pressure scheme. Phillips is the coach capable of bringing out any hidden star in Williams. Playing with Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus in NFL Siberia will not have close to the same Phillips impact.
But his place in the game is not what's most important to Williams. It's hard to picture it even entering his mind.
And who can blame him? He got his $100 million. The Texans didn't make an offer close to competitive with that. Spelling out Mario's name and number in those pizzas helped a little too, gave Williams a feel for what he called Buffalo's small-town-type "family atmosphere."
It's no act either. Buffalo is actually a small town. One that is consistently rated one of the most miserable places to live in America.
Anywhere is nice with $100 million though.
This deal only cripples the Texans if they refuse to do anything even halfway bold in the rest of free agency. It hurts the Bills no matter what.
If it's a lose-lose, Houston at least comes out on the much better half of the equation.