By Tim Graham
Before you read Damien Woody's comments about Mario Williams' disappointing Buffalo Bills debut, there are a few things you should know.
Woody is an ESPN analyst and former Pro Bowl offensive lineman. He won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots and played right tackle for the New York Jets.
He predicted the Bills -- not the Jets -- would go to the playoffs this season. His pick was based on the Williams' presence.
Woody was at Sunday's season opener, a 48-28 loss to the Jets, and watched from the stands next to some Bills fans at the Meadowlands.
With all of that background information considered, you can understand why Woody was excited to lock in on the battle between Williams and inexperienced Jets right tackle Austin Howard. Woody expected dominance. He didn't expect to see it from Howard.
Williams recorded no sacks. His lone tackle came on the fourth play of the game. He didn't appear on the official play-by-play rundown for the rest of the afternoon.
In the Bills' locker room after the game, Williams complained that replacement officials ignored Howard's hands jabbed in Williams' face.
"For him to blame replacement officials as the reason he got dominated yesterday, I think that's pathetic," Woody said. "There's no ifs, ands or buts about it.
"You're the big free agent. You're the $100 million man, going up against a guy that was on the practice squad and inserted into the starting role just a couple weeks ago. I saw a lot of times Mario was one-on-one and couldn't do anything."
The Bills made Williams the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, signing him to a six-year contract worth as much as $100 million and with $50 million in guarantees.
The Houston Texans drafted Williams first 2006. He recorded 53 sacks in his six seasons there and went to a pair of Pro Bowls.
Woody didn't see any justification for those dollars or accolades Sunday.
"I give all the credit to Austin Howard, but this is opening day," Woody said. "If there's any day that you're going to be riled up, it is opening day. You're on the road against a divisional opponent. You're feeling good about your team.
"To not have any production? And then to try to blame it on replacement refs? I mean, come on, man. You've got to be kidding me."
Jets coach Rex Ryan denied that Howard did anything illegal. Bills coach Chan Gailey dismissed any overlooked calls as inconsequential.
"Our offensive guys probably had a couple," Gailey said. "It's going to happen. Maybe it happened more to him than other people. We've just got to keep fighting through that kind of stuff."
The official NFL game book credited the Bills with no quarterback hits, although Williams did knock Mark Sanchez down once. With so little pressure, Sanchez had one of the best games of his career, throwing for three touchdowns and registering a gaudy 123.4 passer rating.
Some might say the Jets negated Williams with quick throws, but Jets receivers were getting open in the secondary with double moves. Double moves take time to execute and require pass protection.
"He was doing all right," Gailey said. "He didn't use the power rush maybe as much. If you'd go back and ask him, he might say he should have used the power rush a little bit more than he did, the edge rush."
A lot of players who perform "all right" make a fraction of the salary Williams does. When asked whether "all right" is enough from a player of Williams' stature, Gailey was cautious in his response.
"It's hard to put too much pressure on guys like that," Gailey said. "You just want every guy to be a factor in the game at whatever position they play. I want them all to be more of a factor.
"We point him because he's a highly touted signee and all that. He's going to be a good player here for a long time. I don't have a problem with that."
(Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)