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Vince Williams Explains What Made Himself And Ryan Shazier ‘A Match Made In Heaven’ On Football Field

The Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2017 season seemed to be putting everything together for what should have been a strong title run, only to see things fall apart in not so coincidental timing to the crushing injury suffered by linebacker Ryan Shazier.

The Pro Bowler would never play again after damaging his spine during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Steelers’ defense has missed his play since then. They still don’t have the answers at inside linebacker. They think they may have their Vince Williams in Elandon Roberts, or perhaps Mark Robinson, but they have no Shazier.

The latter half of the “Shake and Bake” duo, as Shazier and Williams called themselves, recently talked about their on-field partnership and what made them, in Williams’ words, “a match made in heaven”. It wasn’t just about their play styles and how they complemented one another, but also in how they connected above the neck.

“What made me and Ryan special together is we both had a tremendous amount of work ethic, we both had ridiculous football intelligence, and it’s great to have a partner like that because now you only have to see half of the field”, he told Cameron Heyward during an appearance on his former teammates’ Not Just Football podcast.

“I would look at this side of the field, he would look at that side of the field. It would make me be able to diagnose plays really efficiently, because you wouldn’t have to survey the entire field by yourself. That’s a difficult thing to do”.

He added, “I was half of a lineman, Ryan was half of a defensive back, so it made our five-man pressures work great. You’re half of a defensive back, I’m half of a lineman. I do all the blitzing, you do all the covering. It’s a match made in heaven”.

Shazier was an insane athlete, posting a 4.38-second 40-yard dash time at 6’1”, 230 pounds, though he played lighter than that. Williams was, let’s say, slightly less athletic, but he embraced the physicality of the game to the letter and was very much one of those “goons” head coach Mike Tomlin has been under the microscope about recently.

Shazier had 89 tackles in 11-plus games during the 2017 season, the year he was injured, with a forced fumble, three interceptions, and 11 passes defensed. Williams, in 14 games and playing only three quarters of the snaps, put up 70 tackles with 14 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

He and Heyward joked that while Williams would complain about being put through coverage drills, Shazier would do the same about blitzing drills. You know you’re not gonna have me do this in a game, he’d say. That’s Williams’ job. And vice versa.

The Steelers’ search for their next dynamic duo in the middle remains ongoing.

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