There are layers of familiarity between the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints ahead of Sunday's game. Lions head coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn were on Sean Payton's staff in New Orleans from 2016-2020, and some of their fellow assistants from then are still there now.
When the Lions pivoted to sign David Montgomery in free agency last March, after contract talks with Jamaal Williams stalled, Williams then signed with the Saints.
In his first press conference with Saints' reporters, Williams proceeded to call the Lions out for what he saw as a low-ball contract offer.
"The offer they gave me, I felt like was disrespectful and showing that they really didn’t want me to be there like that.”But it’s all love (for Detroit). Like, I know my teammates, everybody there at the Detroit Lions got love for me and all that. But, at the same time, we couldn’t come to terms and — it’s just funny, that’s all.”"
Except, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the deal Montgomery signed with the Lions was similar to what Williams was offered. And Williams took less in total money from the Saints.
But the former Lions' back didn't want facts, seemingly backed up by Lions' general manager Brad Holmes, to get in the way of his being mad the Lions' didn't re-sign him.
How is Jamaal Williams doing with the New Orleans Saints?
It made sense for the Saints to sign Williams. Alvin Kamara was facing a suspension, which was ultimately three games, and when Kamara was back they'd ideally have a nice backfield duo.
Williams missed four games earlier this season with a hamstring injury. Kamara was back in the fold when he was back healthy, and he has had a bit role as the No. 2 back (20 snaps or less in four of the last five games).
In seven games overall this season, Williams has 47 carries for 137 yards (2.9 yards per carry) and zero touchdowns along with eight receptions for 28 yards.
A lesser role aside than he had with the Lions aside, it does seem, even if the Saints' offensive line is pretty good itself, that...
The Saints surely expected more from Williams, but it's not like they've used him a lot either (18 of his carries came in Week 1). Given their struggles in the red zone this season (17 touchdowns on 40 trips; 42.5 percent-29th in the league), it seems he could at least help there. But he has six red zone carries all season, and three of them came in Week 1.
The "revenge game" thing is in play for Williams on Sunday, and it's worth wondering what that will mean for his workload as the Saints deal with injuries at wide receiver. But to this point, as skeptics might have expected if he left the Lions, he has had a dud of a season in New Orleans.