Vincenzo Jerard Williams makes an awesome sidekick, a valued partner of a dynamic duo. He teamed with Ryan Shazier to form Shake and Bake. Just when they were hitting their strides as a tandem, and Vince was settling in as the starting Buck LB, disaster struck. Down goes Shazier with a potentially career ending injury, and suddenly Vince was a Spade without his Farley. A Bert without his Ernie. Maybe the best comparison would be Robin sans Batman.
It is not a knock against William's game to suggest he would be Robin. Where would Batman be without Robin, besides the obvious loneliness? Batman needs someone to battle the hordes of evil henchmen so he can concentrate on cracking snarky one liners as he does battle with their fiendish leader. There is a method to the madness after all. It's just the way things are done.
Every since Shazier's injury, Williams has resembled a fish out of water. The Steelers, as an organization, handled the situation poorly. First they tried to pull a courageous young man with one good leg fresh off the couch because he was familiar with their system. While I admire Sean Spence's efforts, the results were a huge failure.
Then the Steelers signed free agent Jon Bostic prior to last season to play alongside Vince Williams. Another impractical decision. Maybe their union would have proved successful during the old school era, but was archaic by today's standards. Bostic was William's clone, his brother from another mother. Two Bucks lining up without a Mack. I am sure it was frustrating for the players, because I know how disturbing it was to watch.
It seems hard to believe that Vince is preparing for the start of his seventh season in the NFL, all for his beloved Steelers. He has overcame startling odds in his journey, starting with his late round draft selection. I remember the first time Vince's game caught my eye. He entered a preseason game early in the second half and almost immediately made two crushing tackles. I was thoroughly impressed and couldn't comprehend how he was a sixth round draft pick. He seemed sudden and quick to the ball.
Then he slowly but surely started to be exposed in pass coverage, as his physical limitations came into view. He went from being sudden and sure, to hesitant and uncertain. He was like a lost ball in high weeds. He was doing something, but it was hard to tell if he had any idea just what. Thankfully, through hard work and familiarity with the schemes, he has shown slight improvement in coverage, but his limitations remain. Just because an ostrich has wings doesn't mean it can fly.
Realizing that desperate times call for desperate measures, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded up ten spots in the draft and selected their new Batman. While the jury is still out on whether or not Shazier will ever make it all the way back to the playing field; I most commend the Steelers for providing him every opportunity to do just that, the Steelers appear to have their next caped crusader manning the middle of their defense. Devin Bush has no physical limitations, paired with a alpha personality. Bush should instantly become the leader of the defense, and allow Williams to return to his more effective supporting role.
The Steelers immediately displayed their faith in William's ability to man the Buck LB position by releasing Bostic shortly after the completion of the draft. Vince has earned the Steelers respect and faith. He has progressed from a roster long shot, to valued backup and special teamer, to productive spot starter, and now he is an entrenched starter on an improving Steelers defense. A stabilizing presence without off the field drama.
I am in no way a fortune teller, but I expect Vince Williams to have his finest season this year. I believe his game will pair perfectly with Devin Bush's and they will form an outstanding tandem. I believe that Williams has learned alot about his game and his own limitations since Shazier's injury, and is better prepared to accentuate the positives and minimize the negative aspects of his game. I feel Mark Barron was a strong addition and will be a key contributor in subpackages designed specifically for situational football, the role intended for Morgan Burnett last season. However, Devin Bush and Vince Williams should be the immediate starters. Bush is the future, and the Steelers benefit nothing from delaying that development.
Even through the recent struggles, Williams never stopped learning and yearning to improve at his craft. After all, that is what warriors do, they go to battle. Williams has no problem playing second fiddle, as long as it ends with a Super Bowl championship.