Without Devin Bush, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost their top communicator. And as Mike Tomlin admitted, there’s no clear path forward as to who will fill those shoes and wear the green dot. But Cam Heyward says having a veteran like Vince Williams will ease that pain going forward.
“We have to make a conscious effort to communicate because Devin’s down,” Heyward told reporters Wednesday. “But it does help that we have Vince Williams in the background able to tutor guys and get guys in the right spot.”
Tuesday, Tomlin referenced the fact Bush wasn’t a grizzled veteran that wore the green dot for years, only receiving those duties this season. But Williams is that veteran, now 30 years old, whose worn the green dot before. He’s one of the team’s best communicators, loudest voices, and smartest players not only on the defense but the entire team. It’s unclear if he will wear the green dot but even if he doesn’t, he’ll be an asset in communication with whatever player (or players) designated in that official role.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, losing their key off-ball linebacker has happened before. Ryan Shazier suffered a career-ending spinal injury in 2017, leaving the team to scramble for his replacement. Pittsburgh brought back Sean Spence, moved Arthur Moats to ILB, but nothing worked and the defense collapsed the rest of the way, ending with a terrible playoff loss to Jacksonville. Heyward was asked to compare that situation to the one the defense is facing today.
“When we lost Ryan, I think we were pretty young around. We were still dealing with trying to replace a guy like that.”
The difference then to now is the talent that exists among the rest of the group. Then, Shazier was the central figure of the defense. Without him, they lost their best athlete, top playmaker, and tone setter. Bush is a massive loss, there’s no arguing that, but there’s still a ton of talent on this defense. That includes next man up Robert Spillane, who impressed Heyward with his six tackle performance in Sunday’s win over the Browns.
“I don’t know what the situation holds going forward. I know Rob had a great half. But it’s up to us to continue to get better. Everyone has gotta step their game up from here on out.”