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mesaSteeler
10-31-2009, 08:28 AM
For Woodley, cinch sacks no longer in the bag
http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/localsports/10-30-Lolley-column
This article has been read 916 times.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for October on Thursday after tearing through opposing offensive lines for 21 tackles, seven sacks and two forced fumbles in four games - all victories.

That comes as no surprise, considering Harrison is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

What is surprising, however, is that Harrison has done his damage without a whole lot of help from bookend outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

You remember Woodley, who teamed with Harrison last year to set a team record for sacks by a duo with 27.5.

Woodley had 11.5 sacks in his first season as a starter and was seen as a future Pro Bowl player. But seven games into the current season, Woodley ranks last among Pittsburgh's starting linebackers - and eighth on the team - with 25 tackles. He has just two sacks.

That, however, isn't something new.

After recording 9.5 sacks in the Steelers' first eight games last year, Woodley had just two in the second half of the regular season. In his past 14 regular-season games - he missed one with an injury - Woodley has only four sacks.

That's not going to cut it for an outside linebacker in Pittsburgh's defense, where the linebackers are set up to be playmakers.

Sure, Woodley returned a fumble for a touchdown Sunday in a win over Minnesota. And he did have a strong playoff performance last year, picking up six sacks, including a sack-strip of Arizona's Kurt Warner that clinched the team's Super Bowl victory.

But that showed what Woodley is capable of and drove home the importance of good outside linebacker play in Pittsburgh's defense.

The Steelers selected Woodley in the second round of the 2007 draft because they wanted him to be the replacement for Clark Haggans. Woodley is looking a lot like Haggans - a guy who would tease every once in a while by winning an occasional indivdual matchup - but not somebody who will consistently get to the quarterback against top-level competition.

And therein lies the rub.

Early in the season, when neither Harrison or Woodley were getting to the quarterback, it was viewed as opposing offenses getting rid of the ball quickly to elude those two outstanding pass rushers. Over the past month, Harrison, has shown that he can still get there. Woodley has yet to do that.

With defensive end Aaron Smith out for the remainder of the year, the Steelers need Woodley to get the job done. After leading the league in pass defense last year (156.9 yards per game), the Steelers are giving up 214 per game this season. Some of that is because strong safety Troy Polamalu missed four games with a knee injury. But you can also look to the lack of production of Woodley as a factor.

Perhaps Woodley is just going through a slow stretch. Perhaps he'll have another outstanding stretch that matches what he did in the first half last season.If he doesn't, the Steelers will have a difficult time getting to, or lasting very long in, the playoffs.

F. Dale Lolley can be reached at dlolley@observer-reporter.com

acumen
10-31-2009, 12:04 PM
Mr. Lolley very conveniently forgets the playoffs last year eh?

Riddle_Of_Steel
10-31-2009, 08:40 PM
I think folks need to look also at how Woodley is being used this year.

With Troy out for over a month, Carter was a liability in pass coverage on our defense's left side. If you watch, Lebeau really hasn't been rushing Woodley that much this year. He has been droppping him into coverage alot. This last game against the Vikes was the first one since the opener that Lebeau has had Woodley rushing the passer again, and while he didn't have any sacks, he did have some hurries and he was there to make the play on the fumble recovery.

WHile I don't want a 270lb LBer dropping into coverage on a regular basis anymore, I think some of that we just have to chalk up to the normal developement of a young Steelers linebacker...Troy is back, so our normal defensive scheme should resume.

steelwalls
10-31-2009, 09:07 PM
Just another article... Da Wood... is brininging it, he's just being used differently as our D has adjusted to all the movements. He is the last of my worries on this D.

skinart82
10-31-2009, 10:01 PM
Nobody better talk bad about the Woodley!

Psyychoward86
11-01-2009, 12:48 AM
Mr. Lolley very conveniently forgets the playoffs last year eh?

nope

steel striker
11-01-2009, 08:43 AM
I know Lamar will get going soon and, alot of the media does not know crap when it comes to football. They only look at stats which to me does mean a thing. Our defense is startting to get to the qb and, I think they are getting better each week.

Galax Steeler
11-02-2009, 04:56 AM
He will be bringing the Wood here before long and getting his share of Sacks. Like someone stated above he is not able to rush the passer like last year due to the circumstances. He will be turned loose here before long.

revefsreleets
11-02-2009, 11:32 AM
I'm guessing that he was thin and fast for the first 8 games last year, then got fat and slow for the second 8 games, then got thin and fast again for the playoffs.

Either that, or MAYBE his role changes a little situationally?

Nope, slow and fat...

steelreserve
11-02-2009, 12:04 PM
Quick, do the contract extension now while he's feeling fat and vulnerable.

fansince'76
11-02-2009, 12:09 PM
What's scary is that so many people lend so much credence to what Lolley writes.

LVSteelersfan
11-02-2009, 01:54 PM
Woodley is still a beast. Hurried passes and keeping the QB in the pocket are what makes Woodley so good. You don't have to have sacks to be effective. Who cares what an overpaid sportswriter has to say? Not me.

revefsreleets
11-02-2009, 05:08 PM
That's another thing. He makes BIG plays. Would you rather him make a few pedetrian run stops and get 3 sacks or return fumbles for TD's?

He's a SPLASH player. And it's like he sucks from down to down. He's in position. He's rushing the passer. He's dropping into coverage. He's doing his job and every now and again he makes HUGE game changing plays.

solardave
11-02-2009, 05:27 PM
Quick, do the contract extension now while he's feeling fat and vulnerable.

Yeah,
lock him up while we can get him cheap. I'll admit I'm a little bumbed that he isn't getting sacks but it'll come. He's there when we need him most,like the end of games to put the hammer down and that's what counts.