Picking up sacks is not unfamiliar territory for Avery Williamson, an inside linebacker now in his seventh season and on his third different team. During his four years with the Tennessee Titans, he picked up 11.5 sacks. He also had three sacks on his one full season with the New York Jets in 2018.
After spending the 2019 season on the Reserve/Injured List, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this season, and, now getting playing time due to injuries and availability, he picked up his first sack in the black and gold.
It was his first of the season, making him the 13th different Steeler to record a sack this year, and it was their 51st sack in 2020. With the sack before his (among five on the day), they became the first team this year to reach that mark, with the potential to be the only team to do so, and they also became the first team in more than three decades to record 50-plus sacks in four consecutive seasons.
Really, he is just fitting right in to what Pittsburgh has done for many years, particularly under Dick LeBeau and his successor, Keith Butler. Blitzing the linebackers has been a cornerstone of this defense for some time, whether it’s Vince Williams or Ryan Shazier or Lawrence Timmons or James Farrior, Larry Foote, Levon Kirkland, Kendrell Bell, and so on and so forth.
“Shoot, I love it”, Williamson told reporters earlier today about the opportunity to blitz in the Steelers’ scheme. “They definitely want to get to the quarterback. I like being able to get the opportunities. I definitely got a lot of practice with the Jets, so hopefully it keeps on carrying over to the Steelers, and helps me get some more sacks”.
According to Pro Football Focus, Williamson has rushed the passer 19 times on the 123 snaps he has been on the field in passing situations, blitzing more than 15 percent of the time. He has recorded three total pressures in their charting, with one hurry, one hit, and, yesterday, one sack.
On the season, Robert Spillane has been the Steelers’ most effective blitzing linebacker. On 30 blitzes, he has registered 10 total pressures, including two sacks and two hits. Williams, of course, has also been productive, rushing the passer 55 times and generating 14 pressures, among them three sacks and one hit.
Williamson has logged more than 250 defensive snaps for the Steelers since arriving in the middle of the season. He has racked up 44 tackles with three for loss in addition to the sack that he recorded on Sunday, which put the team over 50 for the year.