Breaking Down Mario Williams' Streaky Career as a Sack Specialist

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IJuly 12, 2013

BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 16: Mario Williams #94 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates a fumble recovery during an NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 16, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

When the Buffalo Bills signed defensive end Mario Williams to a six-year, $96 million contract last offseason, they were hoping they'd found an edge presence to put consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

What they got, however, was anything but consistent.

There are two questions at hand, though: Is this par for the course for Super Mario, and with stud pass-rushers?

The former Pro Bowler endured three stretches of two games or more in which he did not record a sack. Five of his 10.5 sacks (47.6 percent) were logged in two games against the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals, which isn't saying much since those two teams gave up a ridiculous amount of pressure on their quarterbacks.

First, here is a look at Williams' up-and-down career.

With Williams, we see a history of him running hot and cold, with streaks of big games followed by frustrating droughts. 

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Can you imagine if Williams was, for 16 games a season, what he was from Week 11 of the 2007 season to Week 8 of the 2008 season (18 sacks in 15 games, highlighted in red)?

On the other side of the coin, his cold streak from Week 9 of 2008 to Week 7 of the 2009 season (seven sacks in 15 games, highlighted in green) is a blemish on his career that serves as a reminder of his inconsistent play.

His rough start in 2012 was attributed mainly to his ailing wrist, which didn't get operated on until the team's bye week following Week 7. Before that surgery, he had logged just 3.5 sacks and had been held without a sack in five games. After surgery, he logged seven sacks in the next six games before being held without a sack in the final three games of the season.

He might carry that play over into the 2013 season, but the trend of Williams as a streaky player has been set.

Let's look at some of the league's best pass-rushers in comparison to Williams.

Players like Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith and Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake experienced similar struggles. Smith was on pace to break the single-season record for sacks before he went without a sack in the season's final three games. Wake, on the flip side, took three games to get started on his tear, otherwise he might have challenged for the sack title.

Ware was consistent in bringing down the quarterback, but even he went five games without a sack and had two two-game streaks without one. 

In short, it's not as though Williams is alone in his struggles to get sacks on a week-to-week basis. While defensive coordinator Mike Pettine could help the Bills pass rush, and could help get the most out of Williams by moving him around, it's fair to note that Pettine didn't have a single defender log double-digit sacks in his time with the Jets.

Williams is also not accustomed to the 3-4, so there could be an adjustment period for him as he figures out his new fit in the defense.

Thus, while Williams' wrist was the inhibitor last year, the light may not instantly turn on for him in the 3-4.

Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all stats obtained from the Sports-Reference.com network and all quotes obtained firsthand or via team press releases. 

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