I touched upon this shortly on SB Nation Houston, but I wanted to do a longer piece here since I know Mario Williams has received a lot of criticism this season, both here and elsewhere, for his play in 2010.
As the above link states, head coach Gary Kubiak announced that Williams has been playing with a sports hernia all season. If you remember earlier this season, the team staff had talked about a groin or hip injury, but it turns out that the sports hernia is the real injury. The good guys at Texans Bull Blog talk about the whole injury disclosure issue, which you can view at the link. I'm getting after the whole "Mario Disappears Too Often" issue after the jump.
Is Mario making excuses? Is he whining about it? No. In fact, Mario Williams is playing very well through this injury. As a stats sheet and Football Outsiders will tell you, Williams has:
- Nine sacks which is tied for the lead among defensive ends and sixth overall. It's Mario's fourth-straight season of nine-plus sacks. Houston's second-best pass rusher, Antonio Smith, has one-third that total (despite also being top-10 in hurries and hits) while the rest of the defense combined has 11 sacks.
- 22.5 hurries, which is third overall, through nine games of charting.
- Ten quarterback hits, which is tied for seventh overall, through 11 games of charting.
Keep in mind, the secondary's inability to cover many receivers beyond three seconds to help the pass rush, and that no one else on the defensive line is a consistent enough threat to draw some attention away from Williams - who constantly gets double-teamed and held. Despite all of this, Mario Williams is having a strong season that will likely see him collect his third Pro Bowl selection.
I'm not big on telling other fans how to react or who to cheer/rip, but I will correct any sort of bad stat or misinformation. Frankly, those who continue to criticize and question Mario Williams' toughness and effort are wrong. The man has never missed a game in his career and plays through whatever ails him - including this sports hernia.
In short, Mario Williams is easily the defense's best player and one of the best defensive players in the league. He may have disappeared at times this season, in part due to this injury, but it has been a rare sight that anyone else appears at all.