By Matthew Marczi
Although Vince Williams had somewhat of a rocky game against the Minnesota Vikings, it is fair to point out that it was, of course, his first career start, and just the third game of his career (he was inactive in the season opener).
Since that last game, Williams has been officially upgraded as the starter over Kion Wilson, who was of course recently released in order to re-sign former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Stevenson Sylvester. Despite Sylvester returning, it is not currently expected that he is in discussions to battle for much if any playing time on defense.
Given that Williams has been officially anointed the starter, it is worth taking a look at how he fared in the first start of his career.
Many have pointed to Williams being the culprit in allowing Adrian Peterson’s 60-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. It is not quite so simple as that; in fact, I find it difficult to determine just how much blame to assign.
Looking at the play, it seems to me that Williams felt his responsibility was the B Gap, but the right tackle pushed Ziggy Hood into his way. Williams was unable to recover in time to make much of a play on Peterson, but Ike Taylor and Lawrence Timmons followed up with missed tackles to turn it into an explosive play.
Was Williams confused on his assignment here or was his gap closed by Hood’s ineffectiveness on the play? Well, Williams was named a starter while Hood was demoted in the interim, so take that as you will.
Later on in the second quarter, he continued to show some of his best traits, at least from my observation, those being his ability to flow to the ball and to shed blockers. The former was expected when he was drafted, but I’ve seen more of the latter from him than I anticipated.
On the play, he reads and reacts quickly, following the flow of the play to his left. Polamalu is the first to slow him down, but after disposing of the tight end that attempts to block him, it is Williams who gets the primary tackle.
Later on during the same drive, he shows some quickness to get past Greg Jennings’ block attempt (which admittedly is not much), and with Polamalu taking out the fullback, is able to penetrate and bring Peterson down from behind after a short gain. He also shows some lateral explosiveness as he goes in for the tackle.
As mentioned, however, his game was not perfectly clean, as the following show illustrates.
There is no beating around the bush, no excuse to make up for this one. This is a flat-out whiff. He does everything right here short of actually making the play. At the time, the score was 20-17 in favor of the Vikings, and the down and distance was third and one. Had Williams made the play, the Vikings would have been forced to kick a field goal. Instead, Peterson scored on the next play, untouched, to make it a two-possession game.