"I don't care about your expectations. I don't care about anybody's expectations."
-- Mario Williams via the Buffalo News, when asked if he thinks he is living up to expectations
Underachievement, excuses, sporadic to nonexistent productivity.
Buffalo, I know this version of the Mario Williams Experience is not what you signed up for, not what your ownership chose to pay for, but unfortunately for you, it's the only version that exists.
It still amazes me that in 2012, when it's never been easier to seek out the opinion of others and watch every minute of football that you possibly can, a team could have gone into an agreement to pay the highest amount ever guaranteed to a defensive player as woefully misinformed as the Bills did with Williams.
And right on cue, here he is in Week 8 of his first year in Buffalo, the figurative halfway point of the season, Mario Williams crumbling under the weight of rightfully heightened expectations and what appears to be a balky left wrist (more on this in a minute).
Seven games in as a Buffalo Bill, Mario Williams has 16 tackles and 3.5 sacks, pedestrian numbers for a guy who was sold to the Buffalo populace as a "double digit per year sack guy" (a rationale that, while factual, fails to take into account his propensity to pile up multi-sack games against shitty teams) and a player who experts said "makes an average defense good, and a good defense great."
They said this despite Williams's having been the cornerstone for one of the worst NFL defenses of the past decade in 2010. They said this despite Williams's never having actually been part of a great defense, and no, you can't count 2011. If anything, the Texans defense became great after Mario Williams went down with his pectoral muscle tear last season.
There are reasons why Houston collectively shrugged its shoulders (and maybe even chuckled a little bit) the day that Mario jumped at the Bills' ludicrous six-year, $96 million contract with $50 million in guarantees (and no, I'm not piling on, I said it was ludicrous the day they paid him, and I'm far from alone) -- Mario Williams is a tease. Mario Williams is replaceable. Mario Williams's seeming inability to translate his physical gifts into game-changing plays is exasperating to his teammates.
Put it this way -- if there is actual debate in the town a player played in for six years as to whether or not the hometown team should keep him, should you really be paying THAT guy more than any other player on his side of the ball in the history of the game? You could argue very easily that he shouldn't even be the highest paid defensive player on the team. If your team is any good, that is.
The Buffalo Bills? They are not good. Defensively, they are as far from good as you can get, ranking 31st in yards allowed and 31st in points allowed. Not surprisingly, the fallout is landing on Mario Williams's plate, and he's reacting about how you'd think:
"I need to play better and I need to get healthy, it's No. 1 on my point," Williams said. "I can say this and you can take it however you want to take it, but it really don't matter to me. I really don't care what you think. At the end of the day I know I need to get physically back into things so I'm not hesitating."
He took his first step toward getting healthy on Wednesday, having a procedure done to relieve pain in the aforementioned left wrist:
"The update on Mario is he had a procedure done to relieve some discomfort in his wrist and we expect him back for practice this week," Bills coach Chan Gailey said today. "That's all I know at this point."
The Bills, of course, are on their bye this week, and Williams is expected to be with the team at practice on Monday as they prepare for Mario's homecoming against the Texans on November 4. When the schedule was released back in April, Mario called the game against the Texans "Judgment Day," but what he calls "Judgment Day" the Texans call "just another game," or "Week 8," for short.
It hasn't all gone perfectly for the Texans this season, but it's gone pretty damn close. Connor Barwin appears to have gotten it going again, and the defense as a whole bounced back from its worst performance of the season against Green Bay with perhaps its best against the Ravens.
Beyond that, "What's wrong with Mario?" a staple topic on talk radio for the six years he was here, is somebody else's problem, and that's kind of nice. It's Buffalo's problem now, and if Twitter is any indicator, their patience tank is about on empty. A small sampling:
— Jason LaJoie (@LaJoie24) October 24, 2012
Hey is @bbwolf94 at Bills practice today? Probably at one of Buffalo's finest restaurants again spending his heist!
— Frank Wolf (@wolf3328) October 24, 2012
— Nathan Patrick (@CasilloVII) October 24, 2012
These tweets (and dozens just like them) came in today...after Mario had his wrist surgery.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
Yeah, I'd say they're having buyer's remorse in Buffalo.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.