Marcus Williams is probably used to not getting much recognition for his play at this point in his career.
Much of that has to do with the reputation that fans and those on social media created for him early in his career, but it’s also the position he plays.
The safety position is a tough one to evaluate, unless you’re watching all-22 tape regularly, due to the fact that you’re only highlighted when the ball is thrown your way or if you come into the screen view to make a tackle.
All of the big plays that safeties prevent by closing off throwing lanes are pretty much impossible to analyze while watching live and this is probably what Williams does best.
The fifth-year starter has only been targeted a mere four times so far this year, according to PFF and he’s only allowed two of those targets to be caught for a grand total of 16 yards.
He also has two pass breakups and two interceptions, which don’t get added as targets in PFF’s database, for whatever reason.
So basically, what the numbers tell you are that quarterbacks rarely throw the ball in Marcus Williams’ vicinity. When they do, they often pay for it. The 20.8 passer rating QB’s have when they throw in his radius this season is worse than they would have simply throwing the ball in the dirt every play.
And what makes these statistics even more impressive this year is how he’s doing it.
New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has put more responsibility on Marcus Williams’ plate in coverage this season than maybe ever before.
He’s done this by calling a lot more single-high safety looks than usual.
Last year, the Saints defense ranked 31st in the league in Cover 3 percentage, at just under 16% and 13th in Cover 1 % (about 27%).
This year, they’re fourth in Cover 1 % and the Cover 3 rate has shot up to over 27%.
Allen is allowing Williams to roam the middle of the field more, cutting off deep crossers and ranging for deep picks, like the one against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1.
The Saints are also towards the top of the league in Cover 1 - Double coverage, which is Cover 1 with one receiver being doubled and that’s what they ran on the play above where Williams picks off Aaron Rodgers.
The route that he ends off rounding off to get over the top of isn’t even his responsibility. He’s doubling Davante Adams at the top of the screen, but just reads the eyes of Rodgers and peels off just in time to make a fabulous play.
And these are the types of plays that make a great safety — the ones you can’t draw up. It’s the plays that are gambles for most defensive backs, but aren’t if you’re special and confident enough to make a quick read and trust your instincts and abilities enough to act on it quickly.
Marcus Williams is that type of player.
That’s why Dennis Allen trusts him so much to seal off the back-end of his coverage unit, and that’s a big reason why year in and year out, this Saints defense has been good at stopping the pass.
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