A healthy Avery Williamson will make far fewer costly mistakes than the linebackers that replaced him in 2019.
New York Jets training camp primers:
- Bless Austin
- Chris Herndon
- Connor McGovern
- Foley Fatukasi
- Greg Van Roten
- Sam Ficken vs. Brett Maher
- Quinnen Williams
- Quincy Wilson
Here’s everything you need to know about Avery Williamson as he aims to recapture his peak form and restore stability at the off-ball linebacker position.
Five positive stats to maintain
Missed tackles were a problem for the 2019 Jets linebacker group. The unit had the sixth-worst missed tackle rate against the pass (16.9%) and fifth-worst against the run (13.8%).
Williamson has been a tremendously consistent tackler throughout his career. In four of his five seasons, Williamson has ranked top-10 among linebackers in tackling efficiency. He ranked seventh-best for the Jets in 2018, posting a miss rate of just 4.8% (120 tackles made, six missed).
In 2018, C.J. Mosley (for the Ravens) and Williamson (for the Jets) combined for 133 tackles and seven missed tackles against the run. That’s a miss rate of 5.0%. If accumulated by an entire linebacker unit in 2019, that would have ranked second-best. Mosley and Williamson can be that good as a tandem.
Elite run defense
Williamson’s toughness, strength, and play recognition make him a strong force against the run. In 2018, his first season with the Jets, Williamson earned Pro Football Focus’ fourth-best run defense grade among linebackers (82.8). The season prior, he ranked second-best with a 90.2 grade. He placed ninth in 2016 with a 79.1, making it three consecutive seasons in the top-10.
From 2017-18, Williamson created pressure on 24 of his 145 pass-rush snaps, a strong pressure rate of 16.6%. The 2019 positional average was 14.5%.
Over his past four seasons (following the conclusion of his 2014 rookie year), Williamson has committed only four penalties over 3,690 defensive snaps, an average of 1.08 per 1,000 snaps. The 2019 league average for linebackers was 2.22.
The trio of James Burgess, Blake Cashman, and Neville Hewitt combined for eight penalties on 1,848 snaps (4.33 per 1,000) in 2019.
Limiting targets in his direction
Williamson’s lack of athleticism or pure cover talent makes him vulnerable when thrown at (more on that later), but his proficiency in the mental side of the game has allowed him to mitigate those weaknesses. He does a great job of executing his role in zone concepts, always staying disciplined to his assignment, and thus rarely committing a major blown coverage. Additionally, Williamson has a natural feel for what is going on around him, consistently gliding to the correct spot to neutralize threats in his area.
All of that is to say that Williamson adds value in coverage through his ability to minimize the number of throws in his direction. He covers up his area and forces the quarterback to move on to his next read.
These skills are best evidenced by the following highly-impressive stat, which squashes a lot of doubt regarding Williamson’s coverage ability.