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: Avery Williamson should continue to rotate into the game for both Robert Spillane and Vince Williams even after the Steelers have gotten their two starting inside linebackers back.
Explanation: Since acquiring him via trade, Avery Williamson has started four games for the Steelers, logging over 300 defensive snaps. He has been a bit of a tackling machine, recording 52 tackles in his playing time, including three tackles for loss, in addition to a sack.
While his knee injury may have robbed him of a bit of his speed, Avery Williamson still has a quickness that neither Robert Spillane nor Vince Williams have. The Steelers were already beginning to rotate Williamson in before Spillane was injured, so there is no sense of them not doing it now.
Pittsburgh has never envisioned Williams as an every-down player, typically logging 700-750 snaps per season as a starter when he is fully healthy, which is a good chunk of time off the field. The same would apply to Spillane under normal circumstances.
Obviously, I’m not saying that Williamson is some sort of secret weapon. If he were so great, the advocation would be for him to be starting, but Spillane deserves to regain his starting spot. The group as a whole, however, could benefit from the rotation by keeping everybody fresh and playing them to their strengths.
Once Spillane shows that he’s gotten his legs under him and is prepared to resume a full workload, there is really not reason that Williamson needs to see many snaps. For one thing, the Steelers already get their linebackers rest when they go into their dime defense, and they have Marcus Allen for the dime linebacker, who offers even more mobility.
Like Sean Davis at safety, who started the finale due to injury, Williamson is depth, which is what he was brought in to be. He has his weaknesses, anyway, and it’s important to have continuity in the middle of the defense, even if all of them can call the plays.