Veteran defensive tackle Brandon Williams saw his first action since joining the Kansas City Chiefs during Sunday’s 34-28 victory over the Denver Broncos. The long-time Baltimore Ravens anchor signed with the Chiefs’ practice squad on November 30 — and he was promoted to the active roster last Thursday.
The St. Louis native played at Division II Missouri Southern in Joplin. He highlighted a variety of reasons he is happy to be back in the region while speaking from the locker room on Thursday.
“I played college a couple hours away from here,” Williams recalled, “and now I have the same number I had in college. It just feels like a coming back thing home — it feels amazing, actually.”
A common theme of Williams’ remarks was the importance of being near family.
“Family that has been supporting throughout my whole career and in college,” he identified. “Now — being here in Kansas City — they’ve just been ecstatic and excited to be closer to see me play, instead of being all the way on the east coast.”
After nine seasons in Baltimore, Williams remained unsigned as a free agent deep into the season. The Chiefs had obvious connections to the player. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was on the Ravens’ staff early in Williams’ career. More notably, Chiefs defensive line coach Joe Cullen held the same position in Baltimore from 2016-20.
Those connections have nothing on the main reason Williams chose Kansas City over another finalist: the recent birth of his fourth child.
“A few teams called,” he revealed, “a couple at the beginning. Toward the end, it was getting down to two teams that really wanted me. KC called toward the end of that. It came down to I was having a kid.
“It came down to family morals and family values. I live in Arkansas, so it’s only a couple of hours away from here. From going to somewhere else versus here, it’s been strictly a family decision — and it’s close to us.”
Williams identified the New York Giants — with a defense coached by former Ravens coordinator “Wink” Martindale — as the other finalist.
“Another team — and another coordinator I actually know from Baltimore — was the New York Giants,” he confirmed. “Two teams that were doing really well at the time. It wasn’t about money or record. It was just about family values and where I wanted to be — close to home.”
In his first game as a Chief, Williams saw 15 defensive snaps — and made his presence felt by recording two quarterback hits and a half sack. The veteran downplayed his comfort level with the defense.
“I’m still learning it,” he claimed, “by any means, I don’t have it all down. Just taking it step-by-step, day by day. A lot of the guys on the team are helping me with the plays and making sure I know what to do. It’s definitely a team sport — a team game.”
Before Thursday’s practice, Cullen was happy with what he saw in Williams’ debut.
“Brandon did a great job for coming in,” he declared. “He’s gotten familiar with the system. He knows coach Spags — there’s some carryover. He went in there and gave us some really good snaps. He was physical [and] did a great job on the goal line.
“We brought him here to knock the run out, but he was in on a half a sack. He did some good things. We just know we want him to continue to get better.”
The defensive tackle credited his knowledge after almost a decade in the league with getting him on the field so soon after signing with a team.
“You’re only as good as your fundamentals allow,” he emphasized. “When you go into games like that on a new team, pretty much just pay attention to what you can do, know your fundamentals, go within the play and ball out. Do what you can do.
“Obviously, when you free your mind, you free your feet. I’m still a little slow out there because of getting to read the playbook and getting to know it. But I’m getting better.”
Spagnuolo’s Thursday remarks went heavy on hyperbole when praising Williams — comparing his efforts to Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield leading a 98-yard game-winning drive two days after joining the team in Week 14.
“Really impressed,” the coach acknowledged. “It’s kind of like Baker Mayfield. Brandon was only here for three days — and he did an admirable job. What he still can do as a [defensive] lineman is knock somebody back.
“He really helped us on the goal line. He had two or three goal-line snaps. I think they took penalty and went back and we were out of goal-line defense. He helped us there. I was real impressed with how he picked it up. True pro — a veteran.”
Williams appeared unsure of the comparison but agreed that the best way to learn is to actually do so during actual games.
“When you come out and ball,” he declared, “you can only get hot when you’re thrown in the fire. That’s what happened.”