Steelers Rookie LB Vince Williams Had Bright Spots In Finale Against Browns

By Matthew Marczi

It’s still hard to say exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers have in inside linebacker Vince Williams.

The fact that his playing time, despite technically being in the starting lineup, no doubt has a lot to do with it, as his snaps in any given game can be quite sporadic. While there are game in which he saw close to 50 snaps, there are also a handful in which his snap total remains in the single digits.

The season finale against the Cleveland Browns fell somewhere in between, in which he logged 26 snaps, which was over a third of the Steelers’ defensive snaps. I honestly can’t say I know any more about Williams than I did at the start of the game though—or even the start of the season.

The fact that Williams showed some capability in coverage during the preseason no doubt went a long way in the Steelers deciding to carry him on the 53-man roster out of training camp, but eventually they tried to swap him out with Terence Garvin on obvious passing downs as the season wore on.

Garvin missed the last game of the season, so as a result, Williams found himself on the field for this early third and five play. He dropped out in coverage and caught Chris Obgonnaya slipping out of the backfield. He showed decent closing speed in making the tackle after four yards—however, the play was negated by a defensive holding penalty anyway.

A couple plays later, Williams did a nice job of sticking to the Wildcat quarterback and making the tackle after a short gain. It was a solid open-field play in a situation in which the runner had a lot of lateral space.

While he didn’t make the tackle on this play, he showed good instinct and pursuit in chasing the runner down and out of bounds for no gain.

Williams avoided Cameron Jordan on this play to get to the perimeter and bring down the shifty Edwin Baker after a short gain in the fourth quarter. It was a decent highlight on an otherwise quiet day. He’s made several similar plays throughout the year that show promise, but a lot of questions remain about him. His development over the course of the offseason should be interesting to follow.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • steeltown

    Im hoping this kid follows some of his teammates to Florida and works with Tom Shaw in the offseason. He’s a big hitter, he’s intelligent and I like his intensity, he just needs to work on his overall speed

  • Shea Fahr

    A 6th Round Rookie playing arguably one of the most important positions in a complicated 3-4 Base? I have no problem with the kid…water him and let him grow.

  • steeltown

    Indeed

  • Shea Fahr

    I believe he already does..

  • steeltown

    Aha you’re right. I just found an article, he’s been working out down there for a few yrs now. I like it.

  • SumnerYoung

    Jarvis and Vince both showed a lot of promise against Cleveland. It seems the defensive principles were finally clicking. I think CB, FS and OLB depth should be more in focus for the draft. ILB looks fine for now but reassess after next season.

  • dgh57

    Always thought he was stout taking on blocks(just ask Peko and Raji) now I can add good lateral movement to both sidelines. Year 2 should bring even more improvements.

  • Matt Manzo

    What does he need to do to be better in coverage? Is it a learned thing or does he need more agility and speed? The lateral movement shown makes me believe he can do it!

  • srdan

    Wait, were those DTs in at fullback? I missed that!

  • steeltown

    Some of it is agility, but I think mostly lack of experience. This was the one major knock on him coming out of college, because even at FSU they pulled him on 3rd and obvious passing downs in favor of a 5th DB

  • dgh57

    Yes, Raji raised his arms in dismay after his failed block and probably said “what the hell”!

  • dgh57

    Agility, along with being able to read the QBs eyes and anticipate where the play may be going. In other words a lot of head smarts which I believe he has.

  • cencalsteeler

    No one can argue that Vince Williams has raw talent. It’s the responsibilities of the coaching staff to “coach him up”!

  • Jarod Wells

    I don’t get it. He never had to do it in college. FSU wanted a DB doing it or else they could of put the more athletic MLB in for that. He has not done it for the Steelers. If he is going to get better, he has to go through the motions. Did they leave Foote in last year for his smarts, because if it’s athleticism, he has never been athletic. Hopefully it is just reading the play, otherwise situational player.

  • Matthew Anderson

    As an FSU grad and fan I watched Vince through college and I think the coming off the field thing is a bit overplayed. Through multiple DC now FSU has maintained a practice of pulling their traditional ILB in sub packages, in favor of oversized safeties. Not sure how common this is on CFB but it has been very common for the Noles

  • Matthew Anderson

    It is interesting to me that if you eliminate any prior knowledge Williams and J Jones, one could make the case they had very similar seasons. I happen to love that both saw this much time this early. Both where instinctive college players and if they can get through the school of Dr . Lebeau, they can’t get back to just playing fast and hitting people

  • David Edward

    I’m with you on that Matthew. If someone had no knowledge of where they were picked, and I said “these guys are both rookies, guess what round”. I think many would think they are 3rd round guys. At least that’s what I saw from them. Vince served himself well as a 6th, and Jarvis disappointed a bit as a first. Of course, I really didn’t expect JJ to impress so he played just about how I expected him to.

  • Jason Brant

    Agreed. Haters gonna hate.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I know I’m going to hear it, but I actually enjoy the occasional down year because I am a true fan. AND I love seeing some young guys get in there, the same young guys that may one day be studs on the Steelers. At least they may be good enough players to contribute to the next 5-6 year period when the Steelers are playing for championships.

    When I think about not only the rookies, but even the new starters, from Worlds to CB Allen, guys on the O line and hell, even Heyward! Man, there were alot of guys that got tons more playing time this year. That actually bodes well for the future.

    I wish I knew exactly how long it will take but I think the future looks bright at some point. I hope they can win their division next year, but the others will all be getting better, so it is a tall order.

  • DrakePirate

    not sold yet .. yet hopeful

  • DrakePirate

    WoW … good point ! a 1st round & 6th round player did indeed have very similar seasons … that in itself says a lot ! we need to start picking players in the 1s round with immediate impact potential !

  • DrakePirate

    well said !

  • Douglas Andrews

    So it’s not so much that he can’t cover. He just wasn’t asked to do that in College. If that’s the case then he just needs time to develop that skill. I think he can be an every down ILB and a pretty good one.