The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The green dot will be worn by Vince Williams at the start of the 2020 season.
Explanation: When the Steelers drafted Devin Bush, they felt they were getting a player who would do anything and everything an inside linebacker could do, including relaying the defensive plays to the rest of the group. That proved to be a bit too daunting for his rookie season. Mark Barron is also expected to be released, whereas Williams has years of experience calling the defense.
Despite the reputation, Vince Williams isn’t far from an every down player. In 2017, for example, he still managed to play 734 snaps, a full 75 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps. A year later, he played 743 snaps. That was a slightly lesser percentage of the total, but he also missed two games that season, so he would have cleared over 800 snaps otherwise.
And he wore the green dot for most of that time, once Ryan Shazier was injured in early December of 2017. He wore the green dot prior to that, as well. He wore it at times even as a rookie, after Larry Foote was injured. He wore it instead of Lawrence Timmons as well.
There is nobody on the roster who has the longevity, defensive knowledge, and role that better suits him to wearing the green dot, at least at the outset of the 2020 season, than Williams. Perhaps Bush gets to wear it later on down the line, but as also happened with Shazier, I think they’ve learned that it’s not an assignment you can rush.
Then again, T.J. Watt even wore the green dot during the season opener last season. Even Minkah Fitzpatrick could where the green dot. Safeties have done it on other teams, even if Fitzpatrick is deeper than you would like that role to be.
But Bush was drafted and destined to be the mouthpiece of the defense. They were forcefeeding him this role going all the way back to rookie minicamp. This is year two. He racked up over 100 tackles and six takeaways as a rookie. The training wheels are off. He is and will be ready for that responsibility on opening day, and like Shazier, he won’t be coming off the field unless he’s hurt.