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.