One quick clip I wanted to share with you guys today and though it seems small, I think it speaks volumes. Literally. Sunday showed the value of Vince Williams as a central communicator to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense. I referenced this play on today’s Terrible Podcast but if you didn’t know the play I was referring to, here it is.
The Los Angeles Chargers shift fullback Derek Watt across the formation, creating a new gap to the defense’s right side. That means the defensive line has to slide down to the new strength of the formation and initially, they don’t. Williams is motioning to the d-line and, I assume, calling out the adjustment, but they don’t budge. So he feverishly claps to get their attention and they finally respond, sliding to their right.
This is far from some sort of radical X’s and O’s breakdown but vital to the health of this defense. They need someone who can communicate, who can direct traffic, and get everyone on the same page. Good offenses will motion, audible, check, and throw all kinds of formations at you that defenses must be prepared to answer. Williams offer that. The linebacker is responsible for communicating with all levels of the defense and that includes helping the front adjust since they’re in the stance and lack clear vision to what the offense is doing with its adjustments.
Devin Bush is a rookie and Mike Tomlin literally called Mark Barron “mute” during training camp. Neither of those guys are capable of being used in that role reliably or effectively. Bush obviously deserves to play and maybe there’s some sort of role for Barron to be found but the Steelers’ defense is better with Williams on the field. Compared to Barron, he’s the more physical player, the better tackles, more effective blitzer, higher energy player, and louder communicator.
Barron was brought in for his athleticism and in theory, ability to cover, but I’d argue at worst, Williams is as competent as him in coverage.
Knowing all that, it’d be silly not to give Williams the majority of snaps in base and nickel.