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2017 Offseason Questions: Will Vince Williams Set The Defense?

The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Will Vince Williams set the defense for the Steelers this season?

One of the very few failings over the course of the 10-year tenure of former first-round inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons is that he never managed to cement himself as that cerebral, do-everything player who can both communicate the play calls and set the defense as the man with the green dot on his helmet while preventing it from affecting his play.

The Steelers were hopeful that he could be that player on a permanent basis after Larry Foote was injured in the 2013 opener, but there is a reason that by the middle of the 2015 season, the green dot had moved on a full-time basis to Ryan Shazier.

Traditionally, however, it has been the buck who sets the defense, as the mack is more likely to have a range of responsibilities outside of the box that might call for a less encumbered duty. That is one of the reasons, anyway.

So with Timmons now gone, Vince Williams enters the starting lineup, and he is that cerebral type of buck linebacker in the mold of Foot and James Farrior. He is more than capable of setting the defense and has done it in the past in-game and has done it in practice and in the preseason since his rookie year.

Shazier has been doing it consistently for the majority of the past two seasons, however. I would say that they may not want to tamper with the dichotomy, but that has already changed with Timmons gone. Still, the team is used to Shazier communicating the defense—although it’s not just the player who gets the call in his helmet who participates in that.

I don’t know what the answer is to this question—that is the reason that it is one that is worth being asked—but I am interested to find out. Personally, I am intrigued by the idea of Williams taking over the duties and leaving Shazier to his own devices.

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