On The Black Side
A Steelers blog honoring the black left side of the Steelers' helmet - By Neal Coolong
Thursday, September 4
He's the size of a flying fortress, and has the quickness of a gazelle. Houston's Mario Williams will be the key component as the Texans try to ride his mismatch advantage to an upset victory

I wrote these words for Steelers Fever in review of the 2006 NFL Draft:
I think Mario Williams will be a good player, and Houston's move is logical. Defense wins championships, and that defense starts with your front line. It's similar to that of the Panthers, who took DE Julius Peppers over QB Joey Harrington in 2002.
I also did claim that Reggie Bush would have more impact than Julius Pepper, and likened Williams to Joey Harrington, somewhat.


Hey, I was one of the few people praising his ability more than denouncing the Texans and GM Charlie Casserly for taking the land mass with lightning speed. It took him 22 NFL games, but he's got the ability to challenge former Giants DE Michael Strahan's sack record.

Williams, the Houston defensive end received all kinds of hype last season after posting 14 sacks, isn't the key player of this game just because of his explosive ability off the snap, or his wingspan that rivals a B-2 bomber. It's the height of the level he finished the 2007 season (10 sacks in his final seven games), and how Williams' ability alone gives the Texans a strong enough advantage to possibly make up for unfavorable match-ups at every other position.

These two teams squared off in a Week 2 game at Reliant Stadium in Houston in 2005. It was the relentless Steelers pass rush and a perfect game from Roethlisberger that led the Steelers to a 27-7 win, but this is a considerably improved Texans team, anchored by Williams' freak physical attributes.

The combination of speed and quickness along with length rivaled by no one else, Williams could/will pose major problems for Steelers' veteran left tackle Marvel Smith, but the result of this game could easily come down to how much they can isolate him without his wake rippling into the rest of the defensive front four.

Second-year DT Amobi Okoye played at a high level last season, with a lot of what he gained being the direct result of Williams' ability to penetrate deep into the backfield directly off the snap. Watching a few of Williams' games last season, he's got several moves he works with a high level of efficiency, and a relentless-but-controlled rush, highlighted by his insanely long arms. Working on an overmatched Denver offensive line, Williams essentially took over for the Texans, logging 3.5 sacks and seven total tackles. The Broncos couldn't run or pass at him or away from him. The Texans laid a 31-13 whipping on the visiting Broncos.

There's a reason Denver drafted left tackle Ryan Clady in the first round this year. That's the kind of impact Williams has, and the Steelers can expect that level of play from the third year lineman out of North Carolina State.

To counter it, the Steelers are likely to run a similar scheme on Williams as they did on Vikings pass rusher Jared Allen in the third preseason game. Tight end help, a running back chipping him on the line, quarterback Ben Roethsliberger throwing into the face of the rush and hoping they can work the flats behind his rush.

The crafty veteran Smith did contain Allen, and Okoye doesn't pose the same match-up problems that Vikings All Pro DT Kevin Williams did on the Steelers' interior line, but the Texans know the havoc those two created in that one half of football (two sacks, several hurries, no big plays).

That, in and of itself, could be enough for the underdog Texans to steal a win in Pittsburgh.


Blogger Stu and Teresa said...
Neal, glad to see you're back man. Good story. Williams will be a nice test for our questionable o-line. Can't wait to read your views during the upcoming season. Here We Go!

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