Devin Bush spoke on a zoom call with media yesterday and said, “If it comes down to me and Vince (Williams) taking all the reps, I don’t think we’ve got a problem doing it...I have no doubt that me and Vince will go out there and control the defense.”
I’ve got a ton of doubt, actually. Not with Devin Bush being good. He’s going to be a stud. He was good last year, and so much better than what they had the year before.
After cutting Mark Barron this offseason, the Steelers only have two inside linebackers with true NFL experience.
Before we get to the lack of depth, how good can a player like Vince Williams be in 2020? A good run stuffer, yes. But the Steelers only trusted him to play 36 percent of the snaps last year.
Mark Barron, on the flip side, played 69 percent of the snaps. Nice. If Williams has to play 69 percent of the snaps it will be anything but nice.
Last year, the Steelers didn’t really have an achilles heel on the defensive side of the football. It's obvious that if Vince Williams has to play a lot this year, he will be that weak spot on passing downs. He’s got a big target on his back. He can’t cover. Period.
Can Ulysees Gilbert bring something to the table? Maybe. But that would be the optimistic view point. He played a ton on special teams last year, but played exactly ZERO snaps on defense.
I am afraid that history is going to repeat itself.
Prior to the Ryan Shazier injury in 2017, the Steelers defense gave up 17.5 points per game. After the Ryan Shazier injury, the Steelers defense gave up 28 points per game including 45 in a Divisional Round loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Steelers were so thin at inside linebacker after the loss of Shazier that they had to sign street free agent Sean Spence. The other options were Tyler Matakevich and L.J. Fort. Yikes.
Kevin Colbert spoke to reporters prior to the draft and said, “I am really comfortable with Vince Williams and really comfortable with Devin Bush. Could we add some more depth? Sure. Right now, we are kind of in a holding pattern to get a better feel for what is left on the free-agent market.
How about that free agent market? Mark Barron was far from a revelation last year, but he's better than what they currently have. I'd give him a ring and see if he's interested in coming back. If he's not, maybe the Steelers could call former Eagle Nigel Bradham?
The Steelers need depth, yes. They also need another starter to pair alongside Devin Bush. If you don't have fast inside linebackers, you don't have a fast defense.
If nothing is done, I've got a ton of doubt in the Steelers inside linebackers in 2020.