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Published on 07/08/2012 at Sun Jul 08 12:00.
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Ever since iTweetGate, fans have become increasingly adamant that nine-year linebacker D.J. Williams should be shipped out of town. In one of our recent polls, 55% of fans voted in favor of D.J. being taken out of the starting lineup all together.

My response has been that the team values D.J.’s on-the-field performance higher than his occasional off-the-field mishaps — meaning he’s not going anywhere.  One of our top commenters on the site, Troglodyte has a different theory.

The caveman believes that Williams’ performance (piling up the tackling stats) is normal linebacker production and called D.J. a “just above average” outside linebacker.  This opinion apparently is shared by Mile High Sports’ Brandon Spano.

After reviewing film from the last few seasons and looking over some in-depth stats, I stand by D.J. and my previous statements.  Williams is not “just doing his job,” he is excelling at his job.

Since being selected by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Williams has started every year in Denver and recorded 810 tackles, 20.5 sacks, two interceptions and forced thirteen fumbles.  That’s all well and good, but linebackers are supposed to put up numbers like that, right?

Yes, linebackers are supposed to look the best on the stat sheet, but Williams has also looked good on film — and that’s more important.  Over the past eight seasons (and especially over the past four years), Williams has consistently found the ball and when he does, he makes plays.

Close observers of the team say that the Broncos view Williams as one of their top defensive players and ESPN recently ranked him as the fourth-best linebacker in the entire division.  Williams has played every position — strong side ”Sam”, inside “Mike” and weak side ”Will” — during his career and has the athleticism to excel at whatever task he is assigned.

Let’s take a look at Pro Football Focus‘ adjusted stats since the 2009 season:

Linebacker Pass Rush Productivity:  Williams has the eighth-most QB pressures (43) among non-3-4 rushing linebackers over the past three seasons.  Since 2009, Williams has rushed 305 times and has reached the quarterback 43 times, which is the twelfth-best success rate (11.56%) during that time period.

Tackling Efficiency:  Williams has recorded the tenth-most tackles (304) among linebackers since 2009.  During that same time period, Williams has played 3,060 snaps and has missed only 20 tackles, giving him the eleventh-best tackling efficiency rating in the NFL (16.2%).

After reviewing those statistics, it is logical to conclude that Williams has been successful as an all-around linebacker in Denver — especially in recent years.  With that being the case, it is unlikely that the Broncos will pull D.J. out of the starting lineup or part ways with the veteran linebacker before his contract expires following the 2013 season.

Williams has done his job on the field and he’s been as productive as some of the best linebackers in the league.  That’s what the team will consider when they make final roster cuts in September, not his ill-advised off-the-field actions.  As long as Williams doesn’t get into too much trouble and keeps playing at a high level, he’ll be a starting linebacker in Denver through 2013.

Agree?  Disagree?  Spew your venom in the comments below.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Smith/100001449854664 Steve Smith

    DJ and his Miami teamate Vilma were the first two linebackers selected the year they came out of school. Lets hope DJ has a better ending to the 2012 season
    than Vilma will.

  • BetterThanCottonCandy

    Well-rounded assessment. But character issues can still overshadow all that happens on the field.

  • http://ehalseymiles.com E. Halsey Miles

    I honestly don’t think his character issues are as bad as some people make out. I’m concerned about the DUIs, mostly, but the other stuff is just little stuff.

  • Ricky

    Move him to the middle and i think our lb core will be awesome!

  • http://Twitter.com/Jon_BT Jon

    I agree.

    I would to have Miller/Williams/Woodyard as our three linebackers.

  • TheTroglodyte

    haha getting thrown into the spotlight was a surprise! Quality write up! :)

  • anthony33

    Considering DJ has been moved around like a pin ball, I would agree that overall he is an above average LB, a very good LB in fact.

    I hope he straightens out the personal side of his life and finishes his career as a Bronco.

  • MrEast

    The problem isn’t that he isn’t getting the stats. The problem with DJ is that he can be totally irrelevant some games and then be on fire the next.

  • anthony33

    You also have to consider, what is it now, eight DC’s in eight years? Hard to be consistent.

  • http://twitter.com/manofsteele661 Curtis Steele

    I like the way DJ handles himself on the field and have to fight with several family members all the time about his worth. It doesnt help my arguement when he gets in stupid messes like he is in right now. The ped or whatever is one thing but 2 DUIS???? COME ON MAN!!! There are so many jock sniffin groupies…NO way he couldn’t get someone to drive him around just to get to hang out with him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.davidson.908579 Andrew Davidson

    Great write up Jon! Nobody’s perfect, and DJ is certainly no exception. However, in my opinion it is an indisputable fact that he is an asset to our team and not a liability.

    Yes, every linebacker SHOULD put up numbers like DJ, but it is tough to find quality linebackers that can play at his level. I personally love the way he plays, and the intensity he brings to our team,. I could care less about iPadTweetGate, but am not thrilled with his DUIs. Hopefully this suspension will get his attention so he can come back and make an impact for us this year.

  • BetterThanCottonCandy

    I agree. There is just that old adage, ‘One aw sh!t can wipe-out a hundred attaboys’. It is what people will remember.
    He does need to quit drinking. Big or small, his problem has surfaced. Regardless, he is a quality player.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.cox.98031 Brian Cox

    Guys, he has not even been suspended for the DUI yet. The suspension is for failing a drug test. He submitted non human urine for his drug test because he is in the NFL’s substance abuse program. If he is convicted of the DUI he will face another suspension.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000649536957 Adeel Adeel Ahmed

    states and films suggestion i like it and nice story…..

    Chelsea tickets

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.smith.127 Peter Smith

    Here’s some more interesting D.J. Williams news. My bet, the one we just read was a response to this.
    http://isportsweb.com/2012/07/06/denver-broncos-d-j-williams-what-to-do/