NASHVILLE, Tenn. ⏤ The Tennessee Titans brought back a familiar face on Wednesday, signing linebacker Avery Williamson to the active roster.
The Titans used a 2014 fifth-round pick on Williamson, who spent the first four years of his NFL career in Tennessee before signing a $22.5 million contract with the Jets in 2018.
While Williamson won’t be some kind of game-changing talent for the Titans, he should serve as an upgrade in at least one area of the defense: run defense.
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) October 13, 2021
Ever since Williamson began his NFL career, the strength of his game has been his ability to play well against the run. He frequently led the Titans in tackles during his initial stint with the team.
“He is a good run defender,” head coach Mike Vrabel said. “Quick diagnosis, reads, reacts.”
The Titans desperately need Williamson’s abilities in that department, because the team has struggled to defend the run at times throughout the 2021 season so far, most notably in Sunday’s win against Jacksonville.
Jaguars RB James Robinson averaged over eight yards per carry en route to a 149-yard rushing performance.
One of the main culprits in allowing Robinson to produce at such a high level was LB Rashaan Evans, who has not played well for the Titans lately.
It’s foreseeable that Williamson could wind up replacing Evans.
Evans frequently misdiagnoses run plays and, as a result, winds up in the wrong gaps.
Though Vrabel deflected the attention away from Evans when asked on Monday about his struggles in the mental aspect of the game, the Titans signing Williamson proves, seemingly, that they fully understand his shortcomings.
Williamson may not start right away for the Titans, since he still needs to learn Vrabel and Shane Bowen’s defensive scheme, but he figures to eventually play a big role, especially if LB Jayon Brown doesn’t return from injured reserve shortly.
Evans’ weaknesses are Williamson’s strengths. In all likelihood, that’s why he’s back.
“He’s a really smart linebacker,” safety Kevin Byard said. “When he played here, he was usually leading the team in tackles, going out there flying around and making big plays.
“We’re excited to have him on the team.”
Cover image: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today