LaMarr Woodley Will Eclipse Jason Gildon in 2015?

By Jeremy Hritz

LaMarr Woodley underperformed last season.

Whether or not it was due to a lack of conditioning, injury, or both, the Pittsburgh Steelers cannot absorb another similar outing and expect to improve on an 8-8 season. Criticized in the offseason by an unnamed teammate for poor conditioning, Woodley showed up to this year’s OTAs in solid shape, as linebackers coach Keith Butler commented, “whatever he did, it appears to be right.” Whether or not it was his conditioning that hindered his performance, Woodley must regain the form that made him a formidable presence on the outside.

Woodley has been a productive pass rusher, with the exception of last season, accumulating 52 sacks over six seasons. His highest sack total came in 2009 when he totaled 13.5, while he matched his lowest output of four sacks from his rookie season in 2012. Putting Woodley’s production over his first six years into perspective, he has recorded more sacks in that time period than Joey Porter (42.5), James Harrison (38.5), and Jason Gildon (36.5), and it is difficult to believe that he will not be able to return to his disruptive ways. When it is all said and done, Woodley has a great opportunity to eclipse Gildon’s sack record with the Steelers (77) as he is only 28 years old entering his seventh season. In fact, if Woodley can record 12.5 sacks over the next two seasons, he can tie Gildon’s record and be primed to obliterate the record in 2015.

While his sack totals will serve as an interesting anecdote at the conclusion of Woodley’s career, the more important need for Woodley’s rejuvenation this year is to help the Steelers return to the playoffs to compete for another Super Bowl because as evidenced in 2012, the absence of his pass rush does not create the turnovers needed to be a championship defense.

Following last season, there were calls for Woodley’s job and the widely held belief was that he was uncommitted to his responsibilities with the Steelers, and it is hard to counterattack that argument. In 2012, Woodley started in 13 out of 16 games as he struggled with injuries. In addition to his decline in his effectiveness in rushing the passer, 2012 also marked Woodley’s lowest totals in combined total tackles. Moving forward into 2013, the Michigan native must improve his output at left outside linebacker in order to resurrect a pass rush that was below the line last season.

With the departure of Harrison for the Cincinnati Bengals, Woodley will be expected to, by default, lead the younger outside backers such as rookie Jarvis Jones, Chris Carter, Adrian Robinson, and even Jason Worilds, which is why staying healthy, arriving to training camp in shape, and producing in 2013 is essential.

It’s hard to imagine # 56 having another poor season, and in an article in Michigan Live by Hugh Bernreuter, Woodley says that his expectations and the team’s expectations have not changed: “We expect to win all of our games and go to the Super Bowl. That’s the goal every year.”

While winning every game may not be a realistic expectation, if he can duplicate his past successes, it could go a long way in the Steelers reach their destination.

FromToGSk ▾
1Jason Gildon1994200315877.0
2James Harrison2002201213164.0
3Joey Porter1999200612260.0
4Keith Willis1982199112659.0
5Greg Lloyd1988199713153.5
6LaMarr Woodley200720128352.0
7Aaron Smith1999201116044.0
8Kevin Greene199319954835.5
9Clark Haggans2000200710732.5
10Chad Brown199320066531.0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/27/2013.

  • steeltown

    12.5sacks…… yes please

  • steeltown

    There’s a great video on steelers website of Ike Taylor interviewing Dan Rooney… ..classic

  • steves

    These are some big IF’s for Woodley. He needs to stay on the field of play and get back to form to be a mentor to the other OLB”S. Let his actions and not words speak for himself. Woodley has it in him to be great and we need to see that.

  • Anthony G

    It just goes to show how (unrealistically) high the standard is for Steelers fans. The guy has one bad season in a career that could be among the best in team history and everyone’s kicking him to the curb.

  • dgh57

    Yes, Woodley needs to return to form and staying healthy will be the first step but the defense functions as a 11 man unit and he will need his teammates such as Worilds and Hood to help take the other teams offense from keying on Woodley! I can see Hood taking another step up as he has improved each year and Worilds if he wants a big payday to be part of his future(whether it be with us or not) should play very good for us this season. One can only HOPE that’s what happens!

  • steeltown

    I have a feeling Hood and Woodley will have far better seasons than last

  • dgh57

    Fans tend to point fingers when something isn’t performing up the the standards fans are used to, such as the pass rush and the running game. I suspect that’s the way it will always be!

  • Bob Loblaw

    That expectation comes with being one of the highest paid players on the team. Him not being in top shape certainly didn’t help matters.

  • cencalsteeler

    There has been so much offseason talk about Woodley that he probably needs to buy his own personal bulletin board. He won’t admit it, but he will be motivated this year, and I predict he’ll have one hell of a season.

  • dgh57

    Like you said a great video! Some of the naysayers of Ike Taylor need to watch this video!!

  • steeltown


  • Christopher Wilkes

    Exactly. Injuries aside, he’s had a year and a half of underperforming, and at that pay scale his performance will always be under the microscope. I have a feeling he’ll be back to his old self this year, but if he underperforms once again resigning him will be looked at as a hugh mistake by the organization. I think he’ll be back to double digit sacks this year tho, and well on his way to surpassing Gildon in 2015.

  • hergieburbur

    Woodley I fully expect to. Hood, I am not so sure. I just don’t think he fits our defense all that well.

  • hergieburbur

    I wouldn’t say big ifs, given his past production. Last year was a throwaway, for sure, but he has let his actions speak before.

  • hergieburbur

    Can you imagine Jerry Jones or Robert Kraft doing such an interview?

  • steves

    Some people take negatives and turn them into positives. Time will tell.

  • walter mason

    Many consider it 2 bad seasons.

  • dgh57

    No I can’t. Players are probably only a way to make money to Mr Jones & Kraft!

    I’m sure it’s something that is unique to only the Rooney Family!!

  • Michael Mazanowski

    Let’s hope! You can wish in one hand and sh#$ in the other and see which one fills up faster!

  • Joe Barcelona.

    Look at the numbers…Kevin Green’s sacks per game is amazing at just about .75/ game, the top five clock in at just under a 1/2 per game and by the numbers Lamarr is at # 2 with .6 per game….not to shabby