Breakdown Of Steelers LB Vince Williams Versus Jets

By Alex Kozora

Breakdown of the play of Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Vince Williams against the New York Jets.


First Drive

Snaps: 3

Run: 3

Drop/Blitz: 0/0


1. 2nd and 1, 12:46 1st. Jets run Power O with Willie Colon pulling. Sheds the FB but gets pancaked by Colon.

2. 1st and 10, 12:14. Facing the Wildcat. All about gap control on these types of misdirection plays. Williams playing strongside “C” gap and the back cuts inside. But he helped forced the play inside to the flow.

3. 2nd and 9, 11:39. Nice job staying at home, not biting on the window dressing (end around, FB blocking away from run – picture to follow)


Colon chips the DE and works to the rookie, sealing him.

Second Drive

Snaps: 6

Run: 4

Drop/Blitz: 2/0


1. 1st and 10, 9:04 1st. Lead strong, Williams takes on the FB. Able to shed him and shows good hustle running the back down from behind after a ten yard pickup. Good individual play.

2. 1st and 10, 8:20. Bubble screen to Mike Goodson who was motioned out wide pre-snap. Nice job getting off the cut block from right tackle Austin Howard. But he gets stiff armed by the back and can’t make the tackle, who picks up the first down.

3. 1st and 10, 7:43. Probably played one gap too far over reading the pulling guard (hard to tell for sure, wasn’t able to use coaches film for this evaluation, only broadcast) but at least he’s reading his keys, albeit a simple one. RB cuts inside but Williams able to make the tackle, working over a lineman and grabbing Goodson’s legs to make the stop. Good play in a confined space.

4. 1st and 10, 5:45. Bubble screen. Not involved in the play.

5. 2nd and 8, 5:05. Williams shoots gap but misses Bilal Powell, running through a split second late. Evidence of a false step here. It could be him thinking passing and preparing to get depth but his right foot comes back off the snap instead of getting a good jump off the ball. That’s the difference between a tackle and being out of the play. Can get away with false steps at Florida State. Not in the NFL.


6. 3rd and 1, 4:25. Goalline stand but Williams not doing a whole lot here.

Third Drive

Snaps: 3

Run: 1

Drop/Blitz: 2/0


1. 1st and 10, 12:07 2nd. Playaction, ball thrown away from Williams to the left sideline. Does come across the entire field to get credit for the tackle though to be fair, the back ran out of bounds pretty much on his own accord.

2. 1st and 10, 11:27. Drops into coverage in underneath zone. Falls out of frame before Geno Smith throws the ball away.

3.2nd and 10, 11:20. Fake dive, run an end around. Williams initially drops then takes an excellent angle to the ballcarrier. Forces him to slow up and try to cut back inside but Williams makes the open field tackle. The angle shows off his smarts and the tackle exhibits good fundamentals, especially coming off a previous game where as a whole, the team struggled to tackle.


Fourth Drive

Snaps: 1

Run: 1

Drop/Blitz: 0/0


1. 1st and 10, 5:25 2nd. Power run. Turns his body vs Chris Ivory and becomes an easy target for guard Brian Winters to pick up. Needs to stay square so he can see the ballcarrier and shed. Bad technique. Picture below.


2. 2nd and 7, 4:48. Drops into coverage. Middle zone. Pattern read where you play man when someone is in your zone. On the fullback as he releases before vacating into the flats where Williams peels off and gains depth. Small aspect of the game but a good job by the rookie.

Fifth Drive

Snaps: 1

Run: 0

Drop/Blitz: 1/0

1. 1st and 10, 14:55 3rd. Drops into coverage. Ball out at the end of Smith’s drop so not much to note.

Sixth Drive

Snaps: 7

Run: 4

Drop/Blitz: 2/1


1st. 1st and 10, 12:24 3rd. Run with Geno Smith on “read option” (though probably just a call since the EMOL was blocked). Run away so nothing to report.

2. 2nd and 9, 11:50. Designed blitz. Stonewalled by Ivory on bullrush. Only upside was his awareness to get a hand up as Smith threw the ball his direction. Did not knock down the pass.

3. 1st and 10, 11:04. Gets caught up in a wash of blockers and taken out of the run play.

4. 2nd and 4, 10:30. Drops into zone. Ball released quick and away from him.

5. 1st and 10, 9:58. Sheds Nick Mangold, working to the second level. Jumps on Chris Ivory’s back to help make the tackle though not officially credited.

6. 2nd and 5, 9:21. Pulling guard Brian Winters tries to seal Williams but the guard gets overextended on his punch and falls. Williams still a non-factor on the play.

7. 1st and 10, 8:01. Drops into coverage, starting to carry the TE vertical. Keeps his eyes in the backfield and drives on the throw down the right sideline, taking a good angle to the ball and showing some fluidity in his hips. Ryan Clark picks the pass off.

Seventh Drive

Snaps: 1

Run: 0

Drop/Blitz: 1/0

1. 1st and 10, 5:36 3rd. Maybe his best play of the game. Sees the Jets OL getting downfield, recognizes screen, drives on the running back. Nick Mangold can’t block him in time and Williams smacks Powell almost immediately.


Eighth Drive

Snaps: 2

Run: 1

Drop/Blitz: 1/0


1. 1st and 10, 12:09 4th. Out of the frame most of the play. Helps make tackle but no credit in the box score.

2. 1st and 10, 11:37. Run up the guy. Not involved.

Ninth Drive

Snaps: 1

Run: 0

Drop/Blitz: 1/0


1. 1st and 10, 3:08 4th. Drops into coverage. Carries Jeff Cumberland vertically down the seam. Pass intercepted by Lawrence Timmons.


Snaps: 25

Run: 14

Drop/Blitz: 10/1

Williams looks light years ahead of where he was just a few weeks ago. It’s obvious he’s picking up the defense at a rapid pace allowing his to trust his instincts more and play considerably faster. He’s got an explosive first step (when there isn’t a false step) and closes quickly with the ability to pack a big hit. Love his hustle and energy too. Runs every play down.

Still some things to work on, he’s still getting anxious and out of position at moments, but he has the looks of a full-time inside linebacker. It’s been an impressive start and makes the loss of Larry Foote almost negligible.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • Virdin Barzey

    Totally disagree with #5. Timmons clearly knocks him out of making a play.

  • steeltown

    Its crazy, but IMO so far Vince Williams has been more impressive than Jarvis Jones, not that Jones hasn’t played well for a rookie and understandably has a higher ceiling, but all said and done Vince just might end up as the Steelers Rookie of the Year (unless Le’Veon tears it up in the 2nd half of the season)

  • Dr. Doom

    For a sixth round pick very impressive

  • Douglas Andrews

    So far Vince has been holding down the fort at ILB. He’s out of position at times but then there are other times that he blows plays up. I could tell from Mini Camp that Vince might be special and he continues to impress. From 6th round draft pick to starter and now playmaker. With more experience Steelers are in good shape at ILB.

  • Ahmad

    I hope this really makes Dick LeBeau reconsider his philosophy of not starting rookies in his defense.

  • steeltown

    This year more than ANY other proves that smart players (rookies) can start their rookie year, of course there are growing pains, but..

  • Jonas

    On the second drive? Yes, but Timmons is blocked by the LT, consequently not his fault as he’s just shooting his gap.
    The ‘false step’ could also be a result of Williams’ assignment. It looks like he is responsible for the B-gap, as he stutters before it is obvious that the back rushs through the A-gap and not the B-gap!

  • Jonas

    Remember the J.Jones article?
    And the GIF where he pursuits the back instead of Geno Smith?

    JJ is definitely a quick learner; just look at the GIF of the second drive.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Timmons takes about ten steps and covers 10 yards while shooting Williams’ hole…all the while Williams is waiting and watching. This is where the expression “the game is too fast for him” comes from. He’s reading and reading without reacting…should have been in that hole blowing up the ball carrier.

  • cencalsteeler

    Vince Williams, every week gets better and better. This guy is impressive and glad the Steelers landed him.
    That first gif looks like Timmons was at fault. Williams shot his gap causing the RB to shift inside and Timmons over pursued and got caught in the wash.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Not a chance. Williams has been a terrible liability in games 2-4, starting to look better after bye week with two weeks to prepare for Jets. In the long run, if Willimas can figure out how to play, Steelers will be better off, but at what cost? In close games there’s 20 – 40 plays or players you can say if they only did better….Williams was instrumental in the Bears and Vikes loss, of course Foote was instrumental in the Titans loss….3 weeks of shitty play and probably a few more stinkers down the road will not make for good memories. so where does that leave us? Rookies won’t play unless the guy in front of them is injured or really sucks.

    While I’m on my rant, I’d like to shout out to all the posters on this site. 6th, 7th rounders and udfa are great to root for, rah, rah, underdog, rah. BUT, on game day, we need to stop grading them on a curve. Beachum is not very good(hell, he didn’t beat out Adams or Gilbert, that’s sad), Foster is below average but at least stays healthy. Shit, Dave posted something like “outside of giving up a probable sack, two drive killing holds and a false start, Beachum was good” Are you flippin’ kidding me????? There are reasons Moye got cut, barely made the 53 and without injury doesn’t get a hat…Tomlin and coaches aren’t picking starters at random. Williams has not played well enough to be on the field over…over, um, he should be benched for…, ah, OK I get it, he’s all we got but he needs to play better.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Glad to see him improving…still has a long way to go. Can’t forget he also had two weeks to prepare for the Jets which definitely helps a rook.

  • steeltown

    This post is a little misguided.. there were 65total offensive snaps, I think one ‘almost’ sack and a couple penalties (one of which was iffy) against one of the best defensive fronts in Football is pretty damn good for a player who by most accounts was labeled as never being anything more than a backup.

    If you don’t like rooting for undrafted players or players that were looked over and fell in the draft, that’s your prerogative, but I love when players make a name for themselves. Without Vince Williams this year and guys like Ramon Foster and even Brett Keisel the last few yrs we would be worse off than we are/were

  • Mike Carroll

    Add in the fact it was Beachum’s first pro start at LT.

    I agree about players that have to earn a name for themselves because they lack the draft “pedigree”. These types of players have one thing in common: they take advantage of the opportunities given to them. Beachum has done that so far, so I am excited to see how he will do in the coming weeks. A player like Redman clearly maxed out his abilities and his ceiling was not good enough for the NFL. The jury is still out on Beachum, but we should know much more about him within the next month.

  • Johnny Loose

    Not bad Vince. Take the next step vs. Baltimore!

  • Impact3697

    Williams was definitely not instrumental in the Bears loss.. One long run by Forte, against a blitz, he was out of position but so was the rest of the defensive front.. The vikes loss, Williams was pretty bad though I agree. Its hard not to get a little excited by a rookie sixth rounder who’s playing decent. Especially when our supposed pro bowl ILB beside him, isn’t playing much better..

  • patrick Mayfield

    Kind of agree with Jonas, seems like he needs to wait for the runner to commit to a gap, with Woodley being pulled (held) 10 yards off the side of the line, probably a good thing. if he went into the A gap and the RB went outside he just has to contend with Cortez Allen. The double on Woodley might indicate that the play was designed for the B gap.

    IMO Timmons is trucking into that A gap as soon as the play starts (i.e. before it can be read. Notice at the snap, Timmons heads to the A Gap, Williams slides a little left and Troy moves up a touch to cover Timmons’ vacated spot.

    That being said his first step tends to take away his base a little which makes him later to the gap than he could be otherwise.

  • Chad H

    If you see someone getting better every week and shows ability then I won’t knock them. Adams and Gilbert were 2nd rounders they were going to get the nod before Beachum. I believe he will improve over the season. To say he isn’t good, well that’s terrible evaluation on your part. He is a hell of a lot better than brick feet Adams!

  • Virdin Barzey

    Not sure what some of these guys are seeing but as many have said, looks like Timmons, his fault or not (is questionable) was the reason Vince did not make the play. It had nothing to do with him being slow to react….on that play. That’s rubbish. He was gap-sound and reacted appropriately.