Veteran Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Vince Williams has been grilled a bit here over the past 24 hours because of a few comments that he made at the end of the season following the team’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional Round of the postseason, which took place a week ago at Heinz Field.
Essentially, he praised his defensive unit and expressed confidence in the group, arguing that they did well throughout the season even though it was largely his unit responsible for allowing the Jaguars to score 38 of their 45 points that proved to be the difference between a win and a loss Sunday.
But that is not the only thing he said, and he shouldn’t be grilled for it. Fans don’t want their players to lack confidence until they do. If you don’t think you’re the best, or capable of being the best, then it’s simply hard to play this game.
While he praised his 2017 defense, he knows that that unit is gone. “The reality of the situation is this defense is done”, he said in the interview. “We’re not going to be the same defense next year in 2018 that we were in 2017. Those people that come back, and those that join us, have to put their hand in the pile, be prepared to work hard and win”.
in actuality, the Steelers do not have any defensive starters who are not under contract for 2018. But that includes Ryan Shazier, who very well may never play football again. Joe Haden will almost assuredly be kept, but others, most notably Mike Mitchell, but also William Gay and J.J. Wilcox, can be released.
“It’s sad. It’s a disappointment, especially with everything we have been through”, Williams continued. “This is the most adversity I have ever been through in a football season that had with nothing to do with football. It’s crazy. The exit of some guys, it’s going to be hard”.
But there is no greater disappointment than the loss itself, which he said will haunt him until they return to the practice field for OTAs. “I don’t get over things like that”, he said. “I am sensitive in that way”.
Williams just completed his fifth season in the NFL, having originally come into the league in 2013 as a sixth-round draft pick. He spent time starting that year due to injuries, but was heavily rotated out in favor of a dime defense.
The 2017 season was his first as a full-time starter, inheriting the buck linebacker position from Lawrence Timmons, who signed a two-year contract with the Miami Dolphins in free agency. He played his college ball at Florida State, the same as Williams.
While Timmons may have left, however, Williams knows that there is only one standard in Pittsburgh, and that is the Super Bowl. “Every time you don’t win the Super Bowl it’s a wasted opportunity”, he acknowledged. And they certainly wasted a golden opportunity this season.