Watching Jonah Williams play football is quite the boring affair. What’s there to be excited about when every play ends the same way?
For a left tackle that tracks all of his opponents’ counter moves on an excel spreadsheet, preparation comes easy for the California native. Starting 44 games for Nick Saban’s juggernaut Alabama team, pressure literally, and figuratively, doesn’t phase Williams.
The pressure isn’t going anywhere now that Williams will be blocking for first-overall pick Joe Burrow.
“Everybody is going to be watching me if I hinder him from doing his job,” Williams told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “I don’t take any pressure off myself. I think it’s exciting. We obviously had a very active free agency and picking up Joe and the other great players in the draft. There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of new blood and a lot of new energy with a new, young coaching staff. It’s exciting to be a part of it. It’s cool to feel a part of it.”
Since he missed the entirety of his rookie season, Williams will go straight from protecting Tua Tagovailoa to Burrow. All he could do last year was watch Andy Dalton from the sidelines last year. The expectations from his offensive line coach, Jim Turner, haven’t changed despite his injury-riddled 2019.
“I feel as good about Jonah Williams as I did the day we drafted him,” Turner said. “Just the character he brings. The work ethic. We’re 180 degrees from where we were last year there.”
Williams isn’t alone as a player from last year’s roster who is enlivened about the front office’s aggressive approach this offseason. Burrow, of course, is the guy that stands out compared to everyone else. Williams and Alabama beat Burrow and LSU 29-0 in their one collegiate matchup in 2018, but last year is what Williams cares about the most regarding his new quarterback.
“He’s obviously a great player. Watching what he did in college last year was remarkable,” Williams says. “It seems like he brings a good energy and confidence and all that. It’s exciting. All the new faces and fresh blood and making a lot of changes, it makes it looking up.”
Injuries and first-round picks are unfortunately a combination that Bengals fans are accustomed to dealing with. Cincinnati’s hoping for their latest example in Williams to work out like William Jackson III did when he came back in 2017 rather than how Cedric Ogbuehi turned out after he missed of his first year.
“It sucked. I was upset I couldn’t contribute last year. But it feels good to be part of this new infusion.”