4 reasons Vince Williams’ absence will lead to a loss for Steelers

Vince Williams #98 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Vince Williams #98 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is hit by Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Vince Williams (98). Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Williams has played extremely well

All of this is purely looking at how the backups should perform in place of Williams, but it ignores just how good he has been playing this year on defense. As stated above, he has been a stud at getting tackles for a loss. Beyond that though, he has been a central player in making this pass rush as potent as it has been. He has three sacks on the year to go along with five total pressures. Those numbers from the inside linebacking spot are great, to say the least.

Even more so, Williams has improved his pass coverage this season. No, it isn’t a strength of his, but he has cleaned his coverage skills up quite a bit. As of now, he is only giving up a quarterback rating of 87.8 when being targeted. Again, this number isn’t elite by any means, but it is more than serviceable for a two-down linebacker. Williams has taken his overall game to a new level this year, and it will be hard to replicate his ability on the defense.

There isn’t a question, the inside of this defense has taken a blow with the loss of Williams. The story would be different if he could suit up even with Spillane likely to miss. At least he could have been a stable force for the defense. Instead, this unit heads into the game with a huge question mark in the middle of the field.

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All of this to say, the Steelers should be concerned at the prospect of Williams missing this game on Sunday. His play has been great this year and mix that in with the questionable depth behind him, and suddenly you have a recipe for disaster this week. If the Steelers suffer their second loss of the season this week, don’t be surprised if it is due to the problems in the middle of the field.