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This & That: 'We have high expectations'

Posted Nov 3, 2017

Vince Williams and his defensive teammates aren't impressed with what they have done so far.

If you look at it on paper, things look pretty good for the Steelers during their bye week.

They have a 6-2 record, and the defense is ranked fourth overall in the NFL, second against the pass.

It’s enough to have many who are outside of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex singing their praises. But that’s not the case inside the locker room.

“Those people that think that aren’t in our locker room,” said Mike Mitchell. “If you are in this building every day, you know the standard is winning championships. We have a lot of work to do, no matter what anybody says out of the room, good or bad.

“We haven’t really accomplished anything. We are just in a good spot in a week we don’t have to play. But we have a lot to accomplish. We haven’t been to a Super Bowl in seven years. I always go back to that Troy (Polamalu) statement, ‘You never are as good as they say you are, and you are never as bad as they say you are.’ Until we get the ring, our job is not done. There is so much work to be done.”

And Mitchell isn’t the only one who feels that way. Despite the looks of things, those on defense feel like they haven’t accomplished much yet this year.  

“We really haven’t,” said Vince Williams. “We have ridiculously high expectations for ourselves. We haven’t come close to scratching the surface of what we are capable of.

“I think we are capable of being the very best defense in the league by far.”

To do that, to get over the hump, Williams said the key is putting together a complete game.

“We just need to solidify some things,” said Williams. “It’s just the little things that creep up. We’ll play good against the run one week, and won’t play good against the pass. Then we will play good against the pass one week, and we won’t play good against the run. Or we won’t force enough turnovers. Or we will have poor red zone defense. We just have to put everything together every single time we step on the field.”  

An example Williams is referring to is the Lions game, where they held the Lions to just 71 yards rushing, and stopped them on five trips inside the red zone, including forcing the Lions to turn the ball over twice on downs. But they also gave up 423 yards passing. The goal for this defense, is to just shut it all down.

“It gives you more motivation to go out there and keep trying to get it accomplished,” said Williams. “We all have high expectations for each other. We know what we are all capable of.”  

* * *

The bye week falls at a great time for the Steelers, and is a chance for players to let their bodies recover after training camp, the preseason, and the first eight weeks of the season. It’s also a chance to hopefully get some players back who have been sidelined by injury, players who will be needed when things heat up in the second half of the season.

“It’s well needed,” said Williams. “I think it’s perfectly timed, more than anything to get some guys that are injured some time to get back to us. I don’t think you can ask for a perfect time.

“We need guys like (Stephon) Tuitt and (Marcus) Gilbert back. Those are two guys who have been bitten by the injury bug. It will be great if we can get those guys back.”