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Old 10-31-2009, 07:28 AM   #1
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Default For Woodley, cinch sacks no longer in the bag

For Woodley, cinch sacks no longer in the bag
http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/...-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
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:04 AM   #2
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Default Re: For Woodley, cinch sacks no longer in the bag

Mr. Lolley very conveniently forgets the playoffs last year eh?
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Old 10-31-2009, 07:40 PM   #3
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Default Re: For Woodley, cinch sacks no longer in the bag

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.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:07 PM   #4
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Default Re: For Woodley, cinch sacks no longer in the bag

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.
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Old 10-31-2009, 09:01 PM   #5
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Default Re: For Woodley, cinch sacks no longer in the bag

Nobody better talk bad about the Woodley!
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:48 PM   #6
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Default Re: For Woodley, cinch sacks no longer in the bag

Quote:
Originally Posted by acumen View Post
Mr. Lolley very conveniently forgets the playoffs last year eh?
nope
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Old 11-01-2009, 07:43 AM   #7
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Default Re: For Woodley, cinch sacks no longer in the bag

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.
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Old 11-02-2009, 03:56 AM   #8
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Default Re: For Woodley, cinch sacks no longer in the bag

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.
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Old 11-02-2009, 10:32 AM   #9
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Default Re: For Woodley, cinch sacks no longer in the bag

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...
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Old 11-02-2009, 11:04 AM   #10
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Default Re: For Woodley, cinch sacks no longer in the bag

Quick, do the contract extension now while he's feeling fat and vulnerable.
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