The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the 2019 season much as they did the 2018 season, by allowing their playoff fate slip out of their grasp. Slow starts and slow finishes permeated both campaigns, with strong runs in between. But while the results were the same missing the playoffs, the means were quite different.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we. But that they still managed to go 8-8 without Ben Roethlisberger, and with the general quality of play that they faced along the way, I suppose things could have been worse.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2018 season.
Player: Vince Williams
Experience: 7 Years
I’ve got to admit, it’s a bit weird writing about Vince Williams this late in the exit meeting series. I have gotten used to including him in the wave of starters over the course of the previous couple of years, but his role in 2019 was reduced in light of the acquisitions of Devin Bush and Mark Barron via the draft and free agency last year, respectively.
He went from averaging about 750 snaps per season (he played 743 snaps in 2018 despite missing two games) all the way down to 396 last year, just 37 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, though with that said, that is still a pretty good chunk of playing time, all things considered.
Despite his reduced role on defense, this was not reflected in an expansion of his role on special teams. He did play a bit more there than he did the year before, but that still amounted to just 36 snaps. He had previously been known to play nearly 10 times that number of special teams snaps.
Even though he played nearly half as many snaps as he is accustomed to, Williams still registered 55 tackles last season, including four for a loss, as well as two and a half sacks and nine quarterback hits, showing off his blitzing skills. He also had one pass defensed and a fumble recovery.
From my perspective, I believe the Steelers still view Williams as a starter, and he will be one again in 2020 if the team decides that they can’t afford to retain Barron as a luxury relative to the salary cap savings that they could get by releasing him.
The important thing to remember, however, is whether Barron stays or goes, Williams will still be here, not just with a role on defense, but also as a leader in the locker room. He is now one of the most veteran players in the building, especially on the defensive side of the ball, going into year eight.