As we will do every Saturday to get you ready for the week’s game, our X Factor of the week. Sometimes it’s a player, unit, concept, or scheme. What will make or break the Pittsburgh Steelers during Sunday night’s AFC showdown against the Baltimore Ravens.
X Factor: Vince Williams
Even with the Steelers possibly getting Matthew Thomas on the field in some capacity, it’s doubtful that’ll come at the expense of Williams, the team’s new signal caller. So I don’t see a UDFA rookie taking his first NFL snaps stepping into that role anytime soon.
That leaves Williams responsible for patrolling the middle of the field, one of the few players who log at or near 100% of the snaps defensively. His play so far this season has been good enough overall, though a little spotty, even in run defense, but I’m not worried about him as I am, say, the secondary.
But the reason I chose Williams is actually less for his play on the field but his intangibles that impact it indirectly. This is Steelers/Ravens week and you know it as well as I do the tempo just hits another level. The physicality, mentality, the feel of this matchup.
And this is a young defense. Lot of guys here who haven’t experienced this type of matchup or at least, haven’t done it very often. A rookie safety in Terrell Edmunds. New faces like Jon Bostic and Nat Berhe, who have played a lot of ball but not Steelers/Ravens. Cam Sutton likely getting the nod in the slot, who has been apart of the week but not in such a significant role.
Williams is one of those tone setters. One of those highly emotional players who can rally a team, similar to Cam Heyward, the leader of that defense and another emotional conduit.. That’s what this week needs. Some emotion, controlled to an extent, of course, but a defense that is in gear to rise to the challenges of what this week means.
If there’s a time to be amped up, it’s now.
Vince Williams needs to lead that charge.