Brahmas’ “Rugrat Twins,” Jordan Williams and Tavante Beckett, key to team’s defensive success

#11 Jordan Williams and #15 Tavante Beckett team up on a tackle of Defenders receiver Briley-Moore in a game on Sunday March 31, 2024 (ESPN)
#15 Jordan Williams and #11 Tavante Beckett team up on a tackle of Defenders receiver Briley Moore-McKinney  in a game on Sunday March 31, 2024 (ESPN)

San Antonio Brahmas defensive coordinator Will Reed has given a unique moniker to his starting inside linebackers, Jordan Williams and Tavante Beckett.

“I have a nickname for them, ‘The Rugrat Twins,'” Reed said, a reference to Phil and Lil from the early 90s Nickelodeon cartoon, Rugrats. “They are like two little kids on the playground, just running around. They get after it.”

Reed spoke to the media on Wednesday ahead of the team’s Saturday game against the Memphis Showboats. In last Sunday’s victory over the D.C. Defenders, Williams led the team with 10 tackles. Beckett was not far behind with seven.

“There is an adage in coaching, ‘play to the echo of the whistle,'” Reed noted. “And they play to the echo of the whistle…The thing I love about them is their passion. I think their passion and their love for the game and their love for wanting to be successful is infectious with our defense. When things are not going well, they know how to pick us up. For them, that’s just who they are.”

Williams is one of the few players returning to the Brahmas in 2024. He was with the previous staff in 2023 and led the XFL in tackles with 89, making the All-XFL Team. He had been out of football for nearly two years when he not only made the team last year, but started nine games. Williams entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent of the Atlanta Falcons in 2020 before a brief stint in the CFL.

Beckett joins head coach Wade Phillips and several other players and coaches who have come over from the Houston Roughnecks. Beckett was chosen in the dispersal draft after pacing the Roughnecks in tackles with 63. The fourth-year player out of Marshall spent 2021 and part of the 2022 off-season with the Detroit Lions.

“They both are students of the game,” said Reed. “They study. They don’t want to let anyone down. They bring a bunch to this team and putting those two together, (General Manager) Marc Lillibridge did a great job in evaluating talent and understanding what we were going to get by having those two on our roster.”

Any defense coached by Phillips, one of the greatest defensive minds in football history, will come with high expectations. Williams welcomes that. “We all took the challenge of trying to be the best,” he said of the defense following the Defenders game. “We want to be the best defense this year. This is a testament to where we’re going. This is just potential. It’s the first game. We got the rest of the year to get right.”

Reed was pleased with what he saw from Williams, Beckett, and the rest of his squad in week one. “I thought we performed really well,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of first game things that you see, the unorganized, chaotic stuff. We didn’t have any of those moments and if we did they were very minimal. So to me, I thought that was a plus.”

Reed’s defensive scheme this year will be heavily influenced by Phillips’s presence. “One of the reasons I took this job was because I got to work with him, learn from him, learn his system.” The goal is to start simple, given the short amount of time to install a full scheme, and build on that throughout the season. “We tried to keep it, the old acronym, KISS, keep it simple, stupid, and I’m stupid if I try to pour too much into those guys in a short amount of time. Because that’s what leads to mistakes. But each week, there’s always something we try to add.”

Williams is excited to play alongside his teammates, like Beckett, this season. “This team right here, we’re full of dogs. You look to your left, you look to your right, you’re not questioning anybody. You know that each player on the field is going to do their job. And if they don’t do their job, they’re going to run to the ball to make up for it.”

Just like little kids on the playground.

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