What If Worilds Succeeds In 2013?

By Jeremy Hritz

James Harrison is gone and is now in the land of the Bungles, apparently motivated by the Pittsburgh Steelers cutting ties with him. In week two of the approaching NFL season, Harrison will get his first opportunity to make his former team still wish they had his services, while Jason Worilds will be hoping to prove that the Steelers made the correct call.

Sure, the Steelers drafted Jarvis Jones in the first round this year with the expectation that he will eventually become a starter in Pittsburgh, but what happens in the event that Worilds explodes this season and lights it up as a pass rushing extraordinaire? While nobody is anointing Jones as the starter, common thinking has it that inevitably the right outside linebacker will be Jones’ to lose. If, however, in the event that Worilds has a breakout season, the Steelers will be confronted with an interesting decision to make.

Over the past two seasons, the pass rush has been ineffective, which has impacted the number of turnovers created by the defense. The Steelers are hoping that a healthy LaMarr Woodley and Worilds will be able to improve this area. While Worilds hasn’t been prolific in his limited play, he did produce five sacks this past season; however, there are concerns about his ability to play the run, something that Harrison did tremendously well during his tenure in Pittsburgh. Interestingly enough, Worilds was able to rack up five sacks while only starting three games, whereas Woodley tallied only four in 13 starts, and Harrison finished with six in 13 games. Just what type of numbers would Worilds have been able to put up had he started 16 games, or even 13 games?

A team cannot know what a player is truly capable of until they see that player in a starting role throughout an entire season, as there is something to establishing team chemistry and an individual rhythm. Based on Worilds limited play early in his career, there is some reason to believe that he will be able to do some good, possibly great things.

So let’s say that Worilds goes on to have a monster 2013 season and tallies 15 plus sacks and ignites the defense, helping to lead the team deep into the playoffs, what do the Steelers do then? Being that they just drafted Jones, would they let him walk, or would they make an effort to re-sign him? Being that the Steelers are a team that builds through the draft, being faced with such a decision would make for an interesting scenario. Would the Steelers even have the cap space to hold onto Worilds?

While it is unclear what type of player Worilds will be, if he is successful, it will create some interesting story lines in the following off-season. And while it will unquestionably create a conundrum, it is one that head coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers organization would like to have when the 2013 season ends.

  • Mike Sweeney

    Too bad Harrison, didn’t accept the Steelers offer a couple months ago!!!!

  • WilliamSekinger

    I suspect this scenario would play out like Keenan Lewis. Keenan was a 3rd rounder in 2009, and didn’t start until 2012. Steelers let him walk in 2013 after a great season. Worilds was a 2nd rounder in 2010 and will finally start in 2013. If he has a monster season this year, the Steelers will not be able to sign him next year.

  • Marcus

    Move Woodley To DE, release Ziggy and have Jones and Worilds outside. It will never happen but it should.

  • steeltown

    Would be a GREAT problem to have

    I hope they would try and hold onto him. You just groomed him and there’s no guarantee that Jones will pan out, not yet anyway. I guess if Jones has a stellar rookie season and if Woodley struggles again then things would get interesting. It would be difficult to retain Worilds with our cap restraints, but this Defense is built around the pass rush and 3-4 OLB’s.. you don’t just let a young fully groomed one walk after he proves to be a stud…. again, a great problem to have if it indeed comes to be

  • r4kolb

    I can’t wait for Jimmy in week 2. If you don’t think Haley will game plan to have Jimmy covering our backs and tight ends your mistaken. I predict a long day for Jimmy. Plus odds are by week 2 he will have an injury and be on the bench by then.

  • r4kolb

    The knock on Worilds when he was drafted was he was too slow. He will not have a monster year. He’s just not that good.

  • Lamarr56

    Maybe if Worlids establishes himself as a top pass rusher, we could bump Jarvis to inside. I know that would not be his natural position, but I feel like Lebeau could scheme up some defensive fronts where he could get all 4 linebackers on the field.

  • http://twitter.com/softdrums Shea Fahr

    Depends on how Jones is progressing and how Woodley is holding up. A good problem to have as we could always sign him to a Mclendon type of deal prior to the end of camp and trade him for a 1st rounder if he has a stellar year…or keep him and continue moving forward.

  • http://twitter.com/softdrums Shea Fahr

    Agree with Steeltown. Depends on the Rookie, AR, Carter and Woodley seasons.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ted.reiter.1 Ted Reiter

    That wasn’t a knock. He ran a 4.57 40. He was an athlete without the collegiate production. He was plenty fast.

  • steeltown

    Except that Cortez has two yrs under his belt and is hopefully ready to replace K.Lewis

    I guess if Worilds gets injured and Jones breaks out and then Woodley returns to form then this might be a moot point

  • steeltown

    Yep.. pretty damn athletic for his size, a must when converting college DE’s to 3-4 OLB’s

  • steeltown

    Yes sir you don’t get better as a Team by letting your groomed talent walk. K.Lewis was an exception because the coaching staff are confident in Cortez’ ability after 2yrs of grooming and had Gay back in the mix

    Now if Jones has a stellar rookie season and if Woodley returns to form, then maybe Worilds future on the Team will not be as important

  • http://www.facebook.com/donny.simmons.50 Donny Simmons

    There is another option, Worilds could shift to the Buck ILB and Jones would start on the outside. It would be nice to have 4 linebackers that can get after the QB!!

  • http://twitter.com/softdrums Shea Fahr

    Exactly and if Worilds can provide good depth at the very least, I would keep him.

  • Tom

    Obviously not a probable scenario but a big money player would have to be cut to retain him. Woodley and Troy could be possible cuts based on 2013 health and/or productivity. I am more inclined to believe that Worilds will be allowed to walk, regardless of his 2013 numbers….and that Jones will be the starter in 2014.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Despite the cap ramifications of cutting Woodley, I think he and Worilds are competing for 1 spot on the 2014 roster. That said, if Worilds breaks out and gets 15 sacks, they will have a very difficult time finding room for him under the cap.

    The tough decision will be if Worilds proves capable(9-12 sacks) and Woodley doesn’t produce up to his contract again. In that case, would the Steelers take the dead money hit in 2014 or 2015 to keep the younger and less expensive player? The answer to the question needs to play itself out on the field and then the numbers can be crunched to determine what happens in 2014.

  • dgh57

    I always thought the knock on Worilds was staying healthy! Seems like I remember complaining about that in his first 2 years. He has to be given enough snaps for me to tell rather he’s that good or not and this year he should get those snaps!!

  • Nolrog

    If Worilds has a break out year and Jones looks like the real deal then we can take a good hard look at Woodley and that bloated contract.

  • Nolrog

    I disagree that Lewis was an exception. Ike is getting long in the tooth. They should have kept Lewis with an eye to have a Lewis/Allen set at corner after this year. I love Ike and he does a good job out there, but he’s 33 years old and has a 10+ million dollar cap hit next year.

  • JohnnyV1

    Worilds play, and that of Woodley’s health, or both big what if’s for 2013. If Worilds plays well, and the rookie shows enough promise, and Woodley continues to underperform/injured, perhaps Worilds stays & Woodley goes.

  • steeltown

    True.. but maybe it didn’t work out when looking at the books.. maybe due to Pouncey, Ben, Heath, Cortez, maybe Hood & Worilds all needing new contracts or contract extensions very soon

  • dgh57

    If Ike wasn’t such a workout warrior to where it would extend his career I would agree with you! Ike said himself he had 4 or 5 years left in him!

  • http://twitter.com/softdrums Shea Fahr

    That and the fact that Lewis made it known to the world he wanted to go home to the Saints even though he had higher offers.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I say keep them. Start both in future. How? Jarvis Jones is a read and react linebacker who has pass-rushing ability, play him inside. Jarvis remind me a lot like Carlos Emmons and Chad Brown (probably more closer to Chad Brown for versatility) so having this kind of line-up will give us the ability to be a hybrid of two different kind 3-4 schemes. More looks and honestly… I’m not sure what’s the big deal about Worilds’ sub-par running defense.

    You become a better running defender by getting your feet into mud and gain experience, always. It is easier for a pass-rusher to learn how to stop running game than it is treaching a read-react/run-stuffing how to pass-rush. I understand that many like me is optimistic about Vince Williams and he is definitely a good prospect but how many late round linebacker actually stick around and start? Not for a long time plus I can easily see Vince Williams being a part-time Mike LB when we throw a 1-5-5 look.

    Frankly I’m not a fan of Jarvis Jones’ pick but I knew he’sa great character with a good career potential ahead of him but no doubt, he won’t be a superstar and we do not need a superstar to replace James Harrison or James Farrior for all that matter; we need our linebackers to simply produce. You don’t simply… start for the Steelers and doesn’t produce.

  • steeltown

    A likely scenario

  • Anthony G

    Personally, I’m hoping Worilds has a good year, but is outshined by both Jones and Woodley. Why? Because that makes it more likely that he will be resigned and will ensure there is sufficient talent behind the starters.

  • http://twitter.com/softdrums Shea Fahr

    Thanks for the Thumbs down! Lewis said it, not me…I was just repeating it.

  • hergieburbur

    I don’t think Worilds would fit well at ILB at all.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Being we are thin at OLB I would like to see Jones become the starter and then have Worlids as a back up. I am afraid that Worlids will play just well enough where we do not want him as a starter but we can’t keep him on the team.

  • Chris92021

    Worilds being awesome in 2013 would be great for both him and the Steelers. It is a great problem to have.

  • $19122620

    I hope it happens! It would certainly give us a lot of options as far as our pass rush is concerned.

    Worst case scenario would probably be losing him to free agency at which point that leaves the possibility of getting a nice compensation pick out of him for the 2015 draft assuming he is able to continue success somewhere else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/donny.simmons.50 Donny Simmons

    I seem to recall Dave-Te Thomas was talking about Worilds moving to the Buck last year before the draft. I might be wrong but he has the speed for the inside.

  • Michael Pearce

    Yep, I agree with you William.

  • Cody Younkin

    still think you should give woirlds a chance at inside linebacker. He’s a good run defender and he can blitz ( both skills matching what he does on the outside). the only problem is his coverage skills, but with Timmons being our match up guy, he wouldnt have to match up too often, just play that middle/spy zone scheme and attack the run. plus if you do need match ups them you could always go big nickel and put shamarko on a tight end or slot. Worth a shot during camp and preseason!!

  • Dan

    OK, I’ve read all these posts and responses and formed my own opinions, but I can’t help but think….man this is a long off-season. 60+ days ’till camp starts. 110 days until our season starts.

  • Rob

    “Jimmy” won’t have to cover anyone but big ben. He will easily be the best pass rusher the bengals have. He will only have gilbert or adams to beat to get to big ben. The offense that is run won’t dictate what their defense does with james he was picked up to give them some pass rush, I think he will do just that.

  • r4kolb

    Guess we will see Sept.16th

  • walter mason

    We need our linebackers to be superstars..

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Since when? Before our secondary became our best defensive asset, I agree but we aren’t in that situation.

    Otherwise we’d have not drafted Jarvis Jones, dude’s no superstar.

    We already have Lamaar Woodley and Lawrence Timmons anyway.