Given the now known situation with Thomas Davis it seemed appropriate to repost this article I wrote on April 28th when we first traded for Jamar Williams for people who maybe discounted or took the linebacker for granted. Given that it's likely he'll be starting in Davis' absence I think we need to look at Williams a little closer.
If the Panthers traded Sherrod Martin or Everette Brown tomorrow, would it be fair to classify them as worthless, or as scrubs? This is the question you have to ask yourself in the assessment of Panthers' new OLB Jamar Williams. The fan base have been hung up on the notion that Jamar Williams was not a starter in Chicago, however the overwhelming opinion of Chicago fans was that the straight up trade of Jamar Williams for Chris Harris was a fair one.
Jamar Williams was a victim of circumstance in Chicago; a 4th round pick out of Arizona State in 2006 he excelled in 2005 when he finished his senior season with 70 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 FF and 3 INT. In both 2004 and 2005 he was named 'Honorable Mention All Pac-10'.
More after the jump
Williams was drafted in prearation for an impending contact crisis with incumbent starter Lance Briggs. When the relationship between Briggs and the Bears was most strained it was assumed Jamar Williams would start, should the Bears part ways with their previous starter. Chicago saw potential in the young linebacker to be a factor on their defense.
The Bears were able to resign Briggs and Williams was relegated to backing up the all-pro linebacker. During this time Williams made the most of the role he had being a special teams standout and and effective player when he had the opportunity. He started one game in 2007 where he recorded four tackles against the Minnesota Vikings, but it wasn't until 2009 that he would have the opportunity to start again.
Jamar Williams was featured in the Bears' defense more during 2009. On special teams he forced a fumble vs. Pittsburgh in week two and made his first start of the season in week four against the Detroit Lions; Williams posted six tackles in the contest. He would wait another nine weeks to start again for the Bears, but when he did he made his opportunity count.
On December 6th vs. St. Louis- Jamar Williams posted 18 tackles and defended two passes against the Rams. This wasn't the blowout you might believe as the final score was a meager 17-9. However, it was during this game that he showed he could be a factor on the defense.
The most interesting and pertinent thing for Panthers' fans to look at from this game was Jamar Williams stellar ability to shut down Stephen Jackson on rushing downs. Though Jackson ran for a total of 112 yards against the Bears it wasn't due to Jamar Williams, that's for sure- Williams tackled Jackson 13 times on rushing downs for an average gain of just 2.46 yards. For that one game in December Jamar Williams played Steven Jackson better than any linebacker had done all season, in 2009 Jackson averaged 4.4 yards per carry, and Williams erased this number.
In summation, while here in Carolina the name Jamar Williams may not be on the tip on Carolina Panthers' fans' tongues, it very well could be very soon. Before Chris Harris came to Carolina he was a small university safety we traded a 5th round pick for, and it was in Charlotte that he blossomed- the same could very well happen to the 25 year old linebacker we acquired yesterday