Last year, the Steelers' experiment with their new backup running back dissolved by midseason.
That shouldn't be the case this season, not by a long shot.
With red flags flashing around him before even setting foot in Pittsburgh, LeGarrette Blount unfortunately lived up to his negative publicity. Like Blount, new Steelers backup running back DeAngelo Williams' reputation proceeds him, but for vastly different reasons.
These reasons, among others, is why Williams will be a success with the Steelers in 2015:
This is one glaring difference between Blount and Williams. Williams brings nine years of experience with him to Pittsburgh, an impressive number considering running back's short career life spans. Perhaps Williams can share his durability secrets with Le'Veon Bell, who has suffered two considerably serious injuries in his first two seasons.
Winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy is always the primary goal in Pittsburgh. Williams shares that mindset, as he said that he wanted to continue his career with a team that has a chance at winning a Super Bowl. Williams has apparently backed up his talk with results in Pittsburgh's off-season activities, and he has already made a positive impression on his new teammates.
"We like him. He is adjusting really well," Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey said on steelers.com. "He has a great attitude toward things. He played in a two-back system before so for him to come and jump in will be awesome for him and us."
Off the field, Williams has made an impact off the field with his work with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation along with his own organization, The DeAngelo Williams Foundation, which, among other things, helps support the education of breast cancer.
4) Williams has experience sharing a backfield
Williams shared a backfield with Jonathan Stewart during his last seven years in Carolina, and together, the duo became one of the more lethal backfield combinations in the NFL. They each rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2009 and in seven years together totaled 10,453 rushing yards and 71 touchdowns on the ground. Despite earning a Pro Bowl berth in 2008, Williams put his ego aside and continued to share time with Stewart, something Blount was unwilling to do last season with Bell. Williams embraced his opportunity to mentor before, and surely, he's ready to do so again with Bell.
3) His running style fits Steelers rushing philosophy
While still just as effective as ever, this isn't your father's Pittsburgh Steelers rushing attack. Under the direction of offensive coordinator Todd Haley and first year offensive coordinator Mike Munchak, the Steelers' rushing attack was centered around the cut-back ability of Bell and getting him to the outside. Specially, Pittsburgh employed a devastating counter play that had Pouncey and guard David DeCastro pulling left and springing Bell loose for big gains. Williams has a very similar running style, utilizing his cutback running ability and the Panthers' counter schemes throughout his time in Carolina. Like Bell, Williams is athletic, strong, and quick to get into the secondary, meaning that the Steelers' won't have to chance much, if anything, in regards to their running scheme during the early portion of the season with No.34 in the backfield.
2) Williams is highly motivated
After a disappointing season that led to his release by the Panthers, Williams said he is extremely motivated to have a strong finish to his career. A veteran that is hungry and motivated to prove people wrong is never a bad thing, especially on a young, talented team looking to get to the next level.
"There’s no way I can end my career with the season that I had last year. So I want to end on a positive note," Williams said shortly after his release. "I want to win a Super Bowl. I want to play on the largest platform that you can play in in the NFL, and that’s the Super Bowl, so I’m going to keep going."
1) Williams is good... really good
The No.1 reason why DeAngelo Williams will be successful in 2015 is simple; he's a very good player.
After a stellar career at Memphis, Williams has averaged 4.8 yards per carry over his NFL career. He rushed for 1,515 yards in a season once while scoring 18 touchdowns and averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Williams' being injury prone is vastly overstated, as he played in 47 of a possible 48 regular season games before his injury-riddled 2014 season. And with just 1,432 career carries, Williams should have plenty of tread left on his tires.
Williams' arrival in Pittsburgh is similar to when Marcus Allen joined the Chiefs in 1993 after 11 seasons with the Raiders. At 33, Allen came to Kansas City after being used sparingly during his last several seasons in Los Angeles. Allen came to the Chiefs looking to prove to Al Davis and the Raiders that he could still play, and the result was Allen finding a key role in Kansas City's resurgence in the mid 1990s. If Williams has a similar impact in Pittsburgh, there will be good things to come for both Williams and his new employer, the Steelers.