Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams has a lofty goal this year. Not for the team, mind you, but for himself. (The team doesn’t appear to be going anywhere fast, so having individual goals is better for now.)
“My goal this year is a sack in every game,” Williams said, per the New York Daily News. “That’s my goal. It seems like something’s that pretty tangible. If you’re looking at it game-by-game, a sack a game doesn’t seem too far away (or) too far of a stretch.”
It might be a little bit of a stretch. Williams has a grand total of 10 sacks in 32 games, an average of just 0.31 per game. That’s a pretty long ways away from recording a full sack every week.
Williams has an explanation for how he’s going to make that jump, though.
“You’re going to be close sometimes,” Williams said. “You’re going to miss. That’s where good players become great. Changing that. From close to making it. It can turn from no sacks a game to two or three a game.”
Lucky for us, we can actually see how many times in his career Williams has been close to a sack, only to not get credit for one. Pro Football Focus tracks quarterback pressures, which are equal to the number of sacks plus the number of hits plus the number of hurries. By looking at Williams’ pressure numbers and removing sacks, we can see how often he’s hit or hurried the opposing quarterback.
He had 10 hits and 31 hurries in 2016, while adding seven sacks. That’s a total of 48 pressures in 16 games, or three per game. If he turns one pressure per game into a sack rather than 0.44 per game, that’ll get him where he needs to go. Alternatively, he’d need to generate around 110 pressures to get to 16 sacks if he kept the same ratio of 0.15 sacks per pressure. That’s a pretty tall order considering Khalil Mack led the NFL with 96 pressures last season.
So Williams is going to have to both get near the quarterback more often, and take him down with the ball still in his hands a greater percentage of the time when he does manage to get close. If he manages to accomplish that goal, he’d be just the fourth player that primarily works as a defensive tackle to finish a season with 16-plus sacks, following Warren Sapp, La’Roi Glover, and Keith Millard.