By Bucky Gleason
Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt stopped short of criticizing Mario Williams four games into his first season here, but clearly Wannstedt's expecting more from the franchise defensive end. Sometimes, coaches send messages by what they don't say.
Wannstedt was directly asked if he needed to get more from Williams, whose 1.5 sacks so far this season leave him on pace for a grand total of six. The Bills were looking for much more when they forked over a contract worth $100 million.
"He had a great camp," Wannstedt said. "He's working hard. Everybody on our defense needs to make more plays. Every defense in the league is saying that. He's practicing every day. He's playing. He doesn't miss anything. He's working his tail off."
A great camp? Working hard?
It's what Wannstedt should expect from any player, let alone the hired gun of his defensive line. Williams has been a no-show for at least two games. One could argue he has played beneath his own standards -- or any standard -- for all four. Mario isn't even the best Williams. Kyle Williams has played better.
Wannstedt's comment raised several other questions. If he's doing all the right things, why isn't this guy more productive? He was a dominant player in Houston, so what happened to that guy? The Bills haven't discovered what made Williams effective since he arrived.
"It's there," Wannstedt said. "We all have to play better. I'm not going to, you know, [criticize him]. And I believe he will. I believe he will.
"Players, coaches, we all have to get a little better and keep working at it and have the mindset that we have to finish games. We can't be a two-quarter [team] or a three-quarter [team] whether we have a lead or we're behind or whatever. It's the way this league is."
Let's be honest here. If Wannstedt was happy with Williams, he would have gushed about him or explained how he helped the defense or shared one thing that would have suggested he was satisfied with Williams' play. Instead, he offered faint praise about Williams' work ethic and spoke in general terms about the defense overall.
That's says plenty.