Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: ILB Vince Williams
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Obviously, the veteran linebacker is back off of the Reserve/Covid-19 List and ready to resume flattening some running backs for a defense that has very much missed him doing just that very thing.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been running with Avery Williamson and Marcus Allen as their inside linebackers for the past two weeks. Really, that’s the only thing that I should even have to write in this column to explain why it’s significant that Vince Williams is back and healthy off of the Reserve/Covid-19 List after having tested positive a couple of weeks ago and experiencing symptoms.
Not only has the defense lacked his physical presence, both against the run and as a blitzer, they have also, you know, lost those games. Now, I’m not going to say that Williams would have been the difference between a win or a loss, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.
They are also really missing Robert Spillane, something that nobody expected to be writing a few months ago, but the young man has stepped up and filled in admirably next to Williams after Devin Bush went down with a torn ACL earlier in the season.
The linebacker position has not been fortunate this year, with three of them spending time on the Reserve/Injured List and another spending time on the Reserve/Covid-19 List, all of them missing multiple games, if not the majority of the season, because of it.
Williams is one of the core members of this defense, and of this team, so his presence will be a very welcome addition, not just on the field, but off of it as well. But what they need most right now is what he does between the lines, and that’s smack some linebackers for lost yards and bring the quarterback down on blitzes. That’s even more important with Bud Dupree done for the year.