As a Houston Texans follower, I got plenty of questions on twitter over the summer from fans of other teams that were interested in pilfering free agent Mario Williams. The first question was usually if I really thought the Texans would let him walk. After I said yes, the question was automatically followed up with “Are they Crazy?!”
This was expected. After all, I got the same reaction when I said these things about Dunta Robinson a couple of years ago.
However, I said it when he signed with Buffalo, and I’ll still say it today; Mario Williams taking the money and running is the least upset I have ever been about my team, in any sport, not bringing back a big time free agent.
This is, of course, usually met with the declaration that I’m “bitter” and just mad that he left. No, I’d be bitter if the Texans had made Mario Williams the highest paid defensive player in the history of the league, like Buffalo did. Why? Because Mario will never be a $100 million player and I’ll tell you why.
After just one game in Buffalo, that saw Mario become the invisible man we’ve come to know him as in Hoston and notch just one tackle, the early reviews are that he is an overpaid bum and murmurs of buyer’s remorse are already creeping into the local media and airwaves. But that isn’t what I’m basing my judgments on Mario off of. No, I’m going off of his six seasons in Houston that constantly saw him underachieve.
Despite the big debate over who should have been the top pick overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, I stick by the assessment that Houston picked the right guy. Reggie Bush is on his second team and Vince Young is out of the league; they made the right choice, even if I admittedly hated it at the time (I was all in on the Reggie hype). But what we got over six years wasn’t a franchise changing player that a #1 overall pick should have been.
People who don’t watch the Texans game in and game out always scratched their head when I would say things like that. They’d look at his sack totals at or near double digits and assume he was beasting it out all day, every day. But I’d explain to them that what Mario gets, he gets off of his athletic ability alone. To put it simply; Mario is a football player…but he doesn’t LOVE playing football.
The biggest gripe I had with Mario in his time with Houston was his inconsistency. He’d have a monster game, notch 3 sacks and you’d assume that this was it, he had turned the corner. Then he’d post goose eggs the next week and the apologists would claim he was double teamed the entire game. But for those of us who sadly have the time and desire to watch game film, we saw that this wasn’t close to the truth at all.
Mario has every bit of the talent and ability that some of the all time great pass rushers like Reggie White and Bruce Smith had. Every bit. But what he lacks is their intensity, passion and desire to win every single play. To think that this is ever going to change was one of the reasons we always ended up disappointed in Houston.
In the end, many will say I’m wrong to write this after only one game in Buffalo and that could end up being true. But I’m not going off of this one game. I’m going off of his 82 starts as a Houston Texans “franchise player.”
He could come out this Sunday and raise hell all day in the backfield and bring Matt Cassel down 3 or 4 times and every one will be back referencing this post. But bookmark and make sure you come back after he pulls a disappearing act the three weeks following it.
Again, talent was never my main critique of Mario. He’s going to get some sacks. It was his inconsistency. Mario had huge games. He just never had huge seasons. In that, you’ll find the only thing Mario will truly ever be consistent in.