The Seattle Seahawks feature two guys along their defensive line that finished with double-digit sacks in 2018; Defensive Tackle Jarran Reed and Defensive End Frank Clark. Both guys were problems for the Dallas Cowboys in their first matchup in Seattle back in September, but aside from a sack by Clark on a miscommunication between Left Guard Connor Williams and Left Tackle Tyron Smith, they were for the most part held in check. And Connor Williams was a big reason for that.
Williams who was making the start in favor of the injured Xavier Su’a-Filo who had been the starter at left guard for much of the second half of the season, played really well in his first playoff game and looked much more comfortable at left guard than he had earlier in the season.
In order to get an appreciation of Williams performance, which was solid, I took a look at the All-22 and here’s what I saw.
- There were only a couple of times when studying Williams on the coaches film where he was pushed back into Dak Prescott‘s lap, but while it may have messed up Prescott’s timing, he was still able to get the throw off and they didn’t result in negative plays. Williams held up well for much of the night, using solid leverage and grip strength to control the opposition.
- Williams for much of the game looked like the guy who was an All-American at left tackle. Using his superb footwork to work guys to the outside instead of relying on his strength, which as an undersized guard he’s still trying to develop.
- In the running game, Williams moved as well as you would expect. The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff attempted to get him to the second level a lot to seal linebackers in the running game, which he was able to do pretty well. Other times, he was sealing off the defensive tackle as the play went to the right side of the offensive line and wasn’t asked to do a lot.
- On the goal line scores for both Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, Williams was able to get good movement even though the runs went to the right.
- If there was an area that Connor Williams can improve from the win over the Seahawks it’s in his communication with Tyron Smith. The Seattle Seahawks attempted to run end-tackle stunts between the right defensive end and the 3-technique defensive tackle and by my count, Smith and Williams were at about 50% in picking those up. The lone sack allowed in the Wild Card game was on one such stunt where Williams failed to realize that Smith was passing Clark off to the left guard who was deeply engaged with the defensive tackle and didn’t disengage to pick up the twisting Clark. There was at least one other time when they didn’t pick up this twist, but Dak was able to see the pressure and get rid of the ball before he took a hit.
Connor Williams had a good game at left guard on Saturday and should stay in the starting lineup moving forward. Even prior to the wild card win over Seattle, Williams had been playing better than Xavier Su’a-Filo. Williams has shown that he’s adapted better to the NFL game now with 11 starts under his belt. He’s only going to get better.
He and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys interior are going to have a tough matchup this week with the Los Angeles Rams and All-Pro Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald, but Williams seems to be settling in to life at the NFL level. He’ll have to be as good as he was against Seattle to keep Dak clean and open holes for Ezekiel Elliott in the running game for the Cowboys to be able to move on to the NFC Championship Game.