Entering his fifth season in the NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Vince Williams had big shoes to fill. He was stepping in for Lawrence Timmons, who held down a starting spot in the Steelers defense from 2009-2016. We have seen Williams before, he had 17 career starts over his first four seasons, mainly filling in as a back up to Ryan Shazier who has had injury issues.
Vince Williams continues to exceed expectations
He has performed well in his previous starts and has been a great special teamer over the course of his career. This is why the Steelers gave him the shot at that spot when Timmons signed a deal in Miami. Williams has played well throughout 2017, providing 53 tackles and six sacks to date. His entire skill set was on display in Week 11, as he had seven tackles and a sack, and added more to that in value as well.
Williams is not the fastest athlete. However, he knows his role and he plays to it. He stays gap discipline and lets his partner Ryan Shazier roam and make the big plays. However, doing your jon does bring some good fortune.
This is how letting the game come to you pays off. Williams stays pat and lets Javon Hargrave take up the double team of the center and left guard. The run comes his way and he has the task of stepping up and making the play, which he can do consistently.
Williams’ six sacks this season are second on the team. However, four have come against rookie running backs in one-on-one matchups, one came on a Jacoby Brissett scramble, and his sixth sack came Thursday night, when DeMarco Murray proved he was even worse than Kareem Hunt, Dalvin Cook, and Leonard Fournette at picking up the blitz. He lets Williams rush free untouched for an easy sack.
Sure, Williams finding his six sacks in this way is not the monstrously impressive way to get him SportsCenter recognition. However, the rest of the defense, mainly the defensive line and Ryan Shazier draw so much attention that Williams is taking advantage of matchups that the offense is willing to surrender to him to attend to the others. Williams has to be credited for making the most of these chances.
Again, Williams flys into the backfield untouched as 2016 All-Pro Jack Conklin is making sure to clear out Stephon Tuitt. Conklin has no idea that Williams is coming. Williams shows some bend to get in quick and force a pass that went incomplete.
Lastly, we see the savvy of Williams on full display. Williams sees the two offensive lineman pull. He knows where Sean Davis, his teammate is, and takes the angle to get sucked up by the furthest lineman to the edge. This takes the two out of the play and leaves his rangy safety with a one-on-one matchup. No one is going to credit Williams for a short run, but he helped make the play.
Williams is not going to wow you or make the game-changing play. However, he does his job on every single play and that does not get enough credit. With a defense that has the high-end talent it does and the mix of consistency and acumen from the lower end talent, the group has a chance to make noise in the playoffs.