- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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General manager Buddy Nix ripped into the Buffalo Bills defense after allowing 97 points the past two weeks. That's understandable.
But there was one player on that defense Nix curiously stood up for on Tuesday: defensive end Mario Williams.
Nix said on a conference call Tuesday that "Mario actually plays better than people give him credit for." It was a curious comment, considering Williams was essentially shut out in two division games against the New York Jets and New England Patriots and has just 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks in five games. Williams also used a wrist injury as a reason why he admittedly has not played well.
Nix even realized Tuesday that he was sticking up for Williams.
"Not to defend him, he can play better," Nix said, catching himself. "We expect him to, but so can everybody else."
Again, the defense deserves a ribbing. But so does Williams. His lack of performance is as big a problem in Buffalo as any. A big contract brings big expectations -- and Williams is not living up to it through five games.
Nix is a straight shooter but you wonder if there was an underlying reason for publicly backing Williams. This is Nix's signature signing and publicly ripping Williams would be an early admission that this was a $100 million mistake.
It's way too early for that kind of admission. Williams is a very talented player who has yet to find his groove. Williams is certainly capable. But he needs to get going sooner than later to turn the Bills around.