Found March 09, 2013 on
SteelBlitz Steelers Blog:
This article was posted back on February first, but is still, in my opinion, one of the best ways to replace James Harrison, who was cut today by the Pittsburgh Steelers:
There is a reason that the left tackle position on the offensive line is considered by some to be one of the most important positions on a football team. It’s because the left tackles job is to protect the blind side for most quarterbacks and they also have the task of shutting down the premier pass rushers in the NFL. Most teams, including the Steelers, play their top pass rusher at the right outside linebacker position.
Greg Lloyd, Joey Porter and James Harrison all have played the position for the Steelers and all three caused plenty of issues for opposing quarterbacks during their careers. Lloyd’s last year with the Steelers was 1997, in 1999 Porter started his Steelers career and when the Steelers released Porter in 2007 they replaced him with the 2008 defensive player of the year in Harrison, but it may be time is now time to find Harrison’s replacement.
Jason Worilds was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft to be the Steelers next great pass rushing outside linebacker, but he hasn’t broken into the starting ranks yet. Much of that is due to the fact that the Steelers have Harrison as well as LaMarr Woodley sitting in front of him on the roster. So with Harrison expected to be released as a cap casualty this off-season who becomes the Steelers next right outside linebacker?
Many people have talked about Worilds starting or drafting a pass rusher in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but the Steelers may have the next player in line already on their roster and I’m not talking about Worilds. Woodley has all of the skills needed to be a great outside linebacker and he has played well during his first six seasons in the league; minus the time spent nursing injuries.
After another sub-par performance in 2012; a season once again hampered by hamstring injuries a move to the right side may be just what Woodley needs to challenge himself to get better. Going up against the top left tackles in the league week in and week out would be a great motivator for a player that plays well when the cards are stacked against him. During the regular season Woodley has averaged .6 sacks per game, however, in the playoffs Woodley averages an astounding 1.375 sacks per game.
The biggest games and the biggest challenges are the ones that bring the monster out of Woodley and going up against the best in the game every week may be just what he needs to become a true force in the NFL. Woodley’s skill alone is not the only reason that moving him to the right side makes sense though. Sure Woodley will still pressure the quarterback from the left side and he will still anchor his side in the run game, but there is another reason for moving him that may be more important.
That reason is that the Steelers other options for the right side have struggled mightily when playing in place of Harrison. Teams attacked Harrison’s vacancy early in the 2012 season when he was recovering from a knee injury and the lack of pressure was noticeable as was the drop-off in play against the run. However, when Woodley missed time later in the season and Worilds was placed at left outside linebacker in his place he played very well.
Worilds started three games during the 2012 season all in place of an injured Woodley. There were also two games that Woodley left early with injuries from that Worilds played the majority of the snaps at the left outside linebacker position in. In those five games Worilds accounted for 18 tackles and four sacks. If you average those numbers out for a full 16 game season Worilds would have accounted for 58 tackles and 13 sacks. That stat line would be just below the best line of Woodley’s career when he had 62 tackles and 13.5 sacks in 2009.
Instead of using their first round pick on a new premier pass rusher the Steelers best option may be moving the best one left on the team; assuming now that Harrison is has been cut. Worilds’ strong play on the left side and Woodley’s skill set could mean the Steelers best option is to just move Woodley to the right side and continue to play Worilds on the left. The team also has Chris Carter who won the starting job on the right side to start the 2012 season and Adrian Robinson an undrafted rookie free agent from a year ago.
That said the Steelers may be cautious of moving Woodley across the defense and forcing him to learn a new position because he has been a force when healthy on the left side. However, if the Steelers replacement for Harrison is not a capable one, teams will simply run the ball away from Woodley and will make sure he is accounted for in the passing game. If Woodley and Harrison’s replacement aren’t getting pressure on the quarterback again in 2013 we would likely be looking at a repeat of the 2012 season.
The post ReVisited: The Pittsburgh Steelers Should Consider Moving LaMarr Woodley to ROLB in 2013 appeared first on SteelBlitz Steelers Blog.
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