2017 Midseason Player Evaluations: ILB Vince Williams

With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming off their bye week and there soon being little to talk about in the interim outside of returning players, now would be as good a time as any to take a look back on what’s transpired this season and give out some mid-year player evaluations.

The team has had a rocky but ultimately successful season to date, coming out of the first eight games with a 6-2 record, tied for the best in the AFC along with the Patriots and the Chiefs, the latter of whom they have already beaten.

The offense has not lived up to its billing for the most part this year, though the running game has had its moments. Defensively, the sacks have come, and the secondary has improved, but there will always be things to work on.

Player: Vince Williams, ILB

The Steelers wanted to keep Lawrence Timmons, the 10-year veteran and stalwart at the buck linebacker position, before he signed a two-year contract, almost all guaranteed, with the Dolphins this offseason.

With money burning a hole in their pocket that was perhaps previously earmarked for a cornerback—they would eventually get one months and months later in Joe Haden—the front office kicked the tires on injured Patriots Pro Bowler Dont’e Hightower, whom they coveted the year he came out, particularly defensive coordinator Keith Butler, who was the linebackers coach at the time.

Nobody is really thinking about Timmons or Hightower anymore, though. And the Steelers maintained all along that they were comfortable moving ahead with Vince Williams taking over the buck linebacker position.

A 2013 sixth-round pick, Williams has almost always played well when he has had to, aside from being a mainstay on special teams. But he previously always replaced Ryan Shazier, and not Timmons, since the latter had remained healthy.

This is the first period of time in which Williams and Shazier have really worked together, and the self-named Shake and Bake duo is slowly building that chemistry together that is so important for an inside linebacker duo in the heart of a 3-4 defense.

He has not been a tackling machine—they already have Shazier at the mack for that—Williams has been the more assignment-sound of the two, and he hasn’t really been ‘noticed’ all too frequently in coverage, as many feared he would.

Of course, he has been running this defense for five years now, it probably should be pointed out. The guy knows what he’s doing, and he has started games and played well. He actually has four sacks this year as well, showing his effectiveness as a blitzer, crucial at his position in a zone blitz scheme.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Sean Finn

    Vinnie has earned his spot. With Harrison, Williams, and Dirty Red able to plug and play, if you want to dump off a short pass against them better buckle up your chin strap.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    So pleased they did not get Hightower. I knew Vince would be fine and they saved a lot of money. Then said hello to a certain Joe Haden. Vince is not lighting it up and knocking people out, but has been sound. Keep in mind that he still makes plenty of tackles for the snaps he takes, often coming out for sub packages.

    As far as his supposedly terrible coverage skills, (Not my words), he has not been burned much at all. It’s not like the opponents throw his way and it’s an automatic TD. So he is doing pretty much what I expected. Excellent and we should all be pleased.

  • David Shoff

    I was really surprised that we blitzed shaz much more then Williams against the lions. I think Williams has proven to be a better Blitzer then shaz.

  • hdogg48

    I think that he is one of the best locker room guys, too.

    That Twitter video of him telling AB that the water cooler
    wanted a “rematch” was hilarious.

    You need guys with a sense of humor about themselves
    and their teammates to lighten things up, once and a while
    and keeping it loose.

  • nutty32

    Timmons has looked mostly terrible all season, too. Shell of his former self, complete non-factor.

  • Ravens Team Gynecologist

    Let’s not forget he also had they all time best team photo / official headshot of all time to.

  • Matthew Marczi

    That’s true, he definitely seems great for the culture.

  • dany

    Which they’re not using here for some reason. What the hell SD??

  • Mark

    I thought we would be a BIG liability in the passing game. However, he has played really well and rushed the QB effectively. I haven’t missed LT at all, especially when you look at the money saved on our cap to sign Tuitt.

  • joe triplehorns

    Big hitter,Big surprise!!! Certainly a starter in Steelers 3-4.And fans say Matakavich is too slow. Williams runs a slower 40.

  • Aj Gentile

    He also makes RB look like they’ve never heard of pass blocking

  • Michael Mosgrove

    B grade.

  • Michael Mosgrove


  • nutty32

    Seems to happen to a lot of ex-steelers. Yet another reason not to believe individual PFF rankings conflating team accomplishments with individual ability.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    i ignore pff entirely. pro football reference is much handier in my opinion.