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: What can we expect from Vince Williams in coverage?
Given that he is the lone new face in the starting lineup on defense, I think it would be fair to reason that Vince Williams has more questions to answer than anybody else on the team. And I also think it would be fair to reason that most of the questions directed at him will be about his ability to play into coverage.
It might not be surprising when you consider the time of year that it is, but we really have not heard much of anything when it comes to how the fifth-year inside linebacker has looked during coverage drills or in offense versus defense scrimmages during the spring.
I do recall one report from several weeks ago (behind a paywall) that contrasted Williams to Tyler Matakevich, who too often found himself lagging behind in coverage, while the veteran linebacker was generally holding his own.
Even if we assume close to the best-case scenario for him when it comes to going up against his teammates in May and June, however, that is a far cry from covering opposing tight ends down the seam in a game that matters.
I do think that public perception about his ability to play in coverage is somewhat prejudiced based on his 40 time—though not altogether unfairly—as well as a memory or two of a blown coverage during preseason play a couple of years ago while the defense was experimenting with more Cover 2 looks.
At the very least, it is hard to deny that the average fan is cynical at best when it comes to expecting the new starter to be able to match up in coverage. And the truth is that the defense struggled covering the middle of the field more than on the outside. But we will have to wait and see what he can deliver.