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Stats Aren’t Everything – Woodley Played Well Against The Raiders


Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley didn’t register any official stats in the loss to the Oakland Raiders this past Sunday, so according to many, he had a bad game.

While Woodley did fail to register a sack in the game, he did register three and a half quarterback hurries and three had positive outcomes as they led to two sacks and one interception. You can see those three pressures below. Sure, he slipped on the final one, but his penetration forced the mobile Terrelle Pryor from the pocket.

woodleypressure

jarviscontain3

woodleypressure3

woodleypressure1

woodleypressure2

Woodley also dropped into coverage five times and was never targeted by Pryor.

So what about against the run? Outside of the 93-yard touchdown run by Pryor to start the game, which we now know wasn’t a result of Woodley not doing his job, the Raiders only rushed for an average of 2.57 yards on the seven other runs to the right. Woodley’s job as an outside linebacker is to set the edge and he did that job well.

On runs up the middle by the Raiders, they averaged only 1.93 yards on 14 attempts.

Was this a Pro Bowl performance by Woodley? Absolutely not, but to call him to the carpet for not registering any official stats in the game is foolish and irresponsible. If the other 10 players on defense had done their jobs in the game as well as Woodley did his, the Steelers would have likely won the game.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Jason

    Gif 1 – blocked 1 on 1 by McFadden who makes a crap effort. Gif 2 – blocked 1 on 1 by a TE Gif 3 – good pressure Gif 4- pressure comes from other side forcing Pryor to Woodley or he gets 0 pressure Gif 5- Pressure comes from the middle causing Pryor to tuck and run or Woodley is pushed out of the play yet again. Also odd that I constantly here that Woodley is double teamed or chipped by Rb’s yet the Raiders (and everyone else) seem very content blocking him 1 on 1 with pedestrian Rt’s and TE’s. Just my opinion. Fire away.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    Why bother people will still hate him

  • Jason

    Ok. After watching #3 again he gets the tackle off balance enough that he may have gotten pressure without help but likely would have whiffed on the sack anyway.LOL

  • SteelersDepot

    Your agenda is failing.

  • cencalsteeler

    Most of the Raiders runs were between the guards. Hard for Woodley to pad the stat sheet when there isn’t much opportunity for him. The Raiders schemed to avoid Woodley, and there is not a stat for that. Stat sheets should be used for references, not the bible.

  • Jason

    No agenda here Dave as I really don’t care who agrees with me or doesn’t. We are all entitled to our opinions and that’s what makes the comment section enjoyable. I do however respect your ability to break down film so if you get time can you pick a game (any game) and break down how many times Woodley is double teamed so I can at least debunk that myth. LOL

  • steeltown

    I said the same the other day… stats don’t tell the whole story

  • Ia Ia

    Jason I totally agree with you. The problem is not ” if the other 10 guys do their job”. Mr Woodlye makes 61 MILLIONS. And as you pointed out he is almost NEVER DOUBLE TEAMED. To me this is enough to know is true value. The guy is way overpaid for is production. From guys like him and Troy ( another 10 milions a season there) you should expect more. Jarvis Jones makes what ? 1 /10 of this guy ? He has to produce a lot more. Otherwise cut him at the end of the season with the rest of useless overpaid players and coaches

  • DAYSNWAYS

    Last week we had Jason’s Good and Bad,….. until you do the same with Lamarr,….Good and BAD…i’m calling agenda.

    He was up against a no name tackle who’d never started a game before, whoopee he gets a bit of push….

    My expectations are obviously a lot higher than some peoples.

  • Jason

    Wish I could like this comment 10 times! See Dave perhaps my “agenda” isn’t failing

  • Douglas Andrews

    Makes you wonder how much more effective Woodley with be if there was more pressures or playmaking from Worilds or Jones. This is certainly a hypothetical but how much of a difference would having a James Harrison make?

  • DAYSNWAYS

    If you breakdown the tape of their very first play you will see Woodley check his run and glance at Prior who is holding the ball in his hands in front of his stomach. There is no one obscuring LW’s view he is about 4/5 yards away for him maximum.

    LW is then miraculously the first player who seems to react to Mcfadden not having the ball, even though McFad is running away from him, how did he know he didn’t have the ball? If it was Lamarr’s job to take the running back why didn’t he keep running and tackle him?

    If there was a shout from someone that he didn’t have the ball fair enough, but his turnaround after his commitment to stopping mcfadden was very quick, almost suspicious, like he new Prior had the ball all along.

    Timmons was to blame too, but that’s a pretty straight up error, he clearly didn’t know who had the ball and lazily assumed.

    All i’m saying is, it wasn’t assumption on Lamarr’s part, he knew what had happened and was counting on Timmons or Troy to be there….so instead of being a great, he just delegated responsibility.

    Go take a look.

  • DAYSNWAYS

    That is a fair point. Silverback was a monster, I have little doubt Woodley’s sack count, and tackle count would be higher if James was still full bore the opposite side. Prior spent much of the first half escaping to his left, that was largely why JJ was pulled.

  • cencalsteeler

    I feel your frustrations and I think they are largely due to the large contract Woodley signed. But, lets take that contract out of the equation and focus on the field. Yes, Woodley didn’t have many tackles and his sack totals are descent. But, your missing the point of the article. His presence is causing contributions from others (let’s not bring up the Pryor run again, it’s already been discussed). Scroll up and look at the gifs posted solely on this article. He has created pressure from his side and disrupted the flow of the play in almost every gif. Now, if there was the same amount of pressure from the other side, the sacks and stats for Woodley would rise. Woodley can not be everywhere on the field, but I do think he gets biased opinions based on the salary he makes.

  • Bill S

    Well, now I’ve lost a ton of respect for the author apologizing for Woodley’s entirely mediocre play. He was single-teamed against a rookie 6th-round draft pick for crying out loud! OK, he got a couple QB pressures. But did he blow up a single play? Did he apply a single big hit to anyone? Did he have any meaningful impact on the game? The answers are No, No and No. I guess that’s too much to expect from the $61 million man.

  • steeltown

    Technically he did have an impact, you must not have read the article or looked at said gifs

  • DAYSNWAYS

    yup,…. i’m looking for a Played Great,… gifs of strip sacks, gifs of TFL’s, …this guy has been to the pro bowl, he is a shadow of his former self IMHO.

  • dgh57

    I would think that in order to get at least a decent pass rush you have to have a DL occupying blockers and a OLBer on the other side demanding attention. Hampton and A. Smith are gone and we run so many sub-packages because of the NFL becoming a passing League that I don’t think we’ll see a high number of sacks from anyone until we get a decent DL.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    waisting your time man

  • dgh57

    Having Hampton and Aaron Smith in there occupying blockers would also help. Until we get a DL to replace the aforementioned names we will have trouble getting sacks because just like on the OL it all starts up front.

  • cencalsteeler

    It is not fair to compare his pro bowl year to today. His teammates are not of the same caliber as back then (though as fans, we hope this young team becomes as equal in due time).
    I will try this one more time. In order of gifs on this article:
    1.Did Woodley disrupt the play causing Pryor to check down for a completion with no gain?
    2.Did Woodley apply pressure to make Pryor redirect his play to left and cause a “hurry up” throw to cause an int.?
    3.Did Woodley again cause pressure to have Pryor look off his intended target and throw another incomplete pass to his checkdown te?
    4.Did Woodley help collapse the pocket, causing Keisel to get to Pryor for no gain?
    5.Did Woodley again, collapse the pocket, flushing Pryor to run for a loss of yards?
    So, to summarize: 2 hurry up incompletions, 2 no gainers (1 was actually for a loss), and one interception.
    Conclusion: Just because he doesn’t get the ESPN highlight reel each week, doesn’t mean he’s is not a major contributor to our defense. There is more to it than just the “splash plays” you are looking for.

  • dgh57

    You are correct in that if a player can’t make a play at least funnel the action over to someone that can. People seem to forget we don’t have the DL we used to have that would funnel plays to the LBers.

  • steeltown

    Yea, alota sub packages being used where Heyward is the lone down lineman, which is fine for certain schemes but also I almost think that McLendon should drop back down to 290-300lbs and move over to take Keisels spot at DE next year..and then draft a true NT

  • RedCarpetDefense

    I’ve felt for a few years now that (at least one) pure 4-3 DT with pass rush ability should be acquired either through the draft or FA. A player such as this could utilized in defensive sub packages or obvious passing situations to provide rush not just pressure up the middle.

  • Bill S

    OK, so you’re excusing Woodley’s mediocre play by citing someone else who stunk up the joint?? I guess that’s what apologists do.

  • dgh57

    Heyward/Draft Pick/Arnfelt up front sounds good to me! Maybe McLendon as backup across the DL.

  • steeltown

    Not excusing anything, just explaining to you what you obviously missed

  • steeltown

    I’d give McLendon the job…but yea Arnfelt and N.Williams both looked pretty damn good in preseason, all things considered

  • Bill S

    Yes, please explain all the great plays that Woodley made that I missed. As noted by others, the 5 gifs above hardly demonstrate that he played an effective game. On two of them (#2 and #4) it was pressure from the other side that impacted the play, and on #5 Woodley fell down after barely being touched.

    I guess it’s considered heresy to criticize Steelers with a good reputation from prior seasons (especially on the defensive side) who aren’t pulling their weight.

  • moderatelysane

    You people criticizing Woodley are ludicrous. Watching a few gifs doesn’t qualify you to critically rate players relative to the entire league. How about you watch every OLB play in the league and assess how many bad plays each has, then compare woodley’s number of bad plays to that? When you do that, make sure you include a correction for what each OLB’s assignment is on each play. Take a step back and look at stats to determine whether Woodley is impacting games.

    Fact: He’s currently 16th in the league with 5 sacks, on pace for double digit sacks. That means there are 15 players in the league with more sacks. With 32 teams, that means there are alot of teams with no linebacker as good as Woodley.

    Fact: Dave did a nice piece this summer documenting that Woodley rushes the passer at a lower frequency than most other OLBs. That means he’s producing more with fewer opportunities.

    Fact: His sacks have killed drives and prevented points. Ask Joe Flacco.

    Fact: Woodley is still producing without a counterpart to draw attention on the other side.

    Fact: The Steelers have been behind so much that opportunities to rush have been dramatically down.

    Fact: Since Woodley is not rushing as often as most OLBs, he’s playing the run or coverage. Terrell prior didn’t pass into his coverage. Clearly, Woodley is bringing much value beyond the sack number.

    Woodley is not our problem. In fact, I would venture to put Woodley as the defensive MVP or co-MVP with Timmons at this point in the season.

  • steeltown

    I never said he made a bunch of “great plays”

    You said “Did he apply a single big hit to anyone? Did he have any meaningful impact on the game? No, No, No”

    I don’t mind criticism and I fully believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion, I was just pointing out that that was a bit of a stretch being that he did have an impact on the game regardless of stat lines his QB hurries and pressure had an effect on the game. Simple as that.

  • steeltown

    Well stated

  • steeltown

    seems to be the case

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    Sometimes rather than look beyond blind hatred and look at stats or video proof its just easier to point your finger and go that guy sucks.

  • Richard Edlin

    That second one — that LT play is *worse* than anything I’ve seen from the Steelers this year.

  • dgh57

    You seem to think Pryor has eyes in the back of his head! In gif #2 & #4 Pryor(or any QB) is going to react first to the play in front of him NOT from his blindside. In gif #5 what’s to say him falling down wasn’t on purpose considering he at first overran the play! Maybe he chose to fall down so he could change direction sooner.

  • dgh57

    Thanks for pointing that out. Must of been clueless of what the snap count was. You are right, even Adams couldn’t perform that bad even on his worst day.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    Did you see the gif where Adams dove and whiffed

  • dgh57

    Yes, but at least Adams dove and whiffed. This guy barely moved!

  • Bill S

    Oh please. He’s one of the highest paid linebackers in the league, but he sure doesn’t play like it. Sack totals are always small numbers, hardly a good measure. But you still want to look at stats?? Fact: 14 tackles, tied for 94th among linebackers. Fact: 6 assists, tied for 94th among linebackers. He’s been on a downward trend ever since he signed his contract before the 2011 season. But go ahead, keep defending him…

  • DAYSNWAYS

    Bill he had a few pressures and impacted a handful of plays, diddly squat else, but it warrants him getting a post dedicated to how well he played and so far he’s our defensive MVP….I fear we’re alone in wanting more impact from the 61 million dollar man.

  • Brendon Glad

    Yep, I don’t begrudge a man his money, but when the average NFL linebacker makes 1.8 million…and Woodley makes 9 million…it’s reasonable to expect him to be about 5X as good as the average NFL linebacker…or else he’s throwing the salary-cap out of whack.
    And a guy who makes zero tackles and has zero sacks is not anywhere close to being 5X as good as an average linebacker.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Jarvis has to do a better job breaking down when he gets close to the QB. He really runs his self out of more plays than he makes.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Man do I miss those two guys. Especially Aaron Smith…Hampton was only a two down player albeit one of the best we’ve ever had at NT.

  • Jason

    I don’t think anyone is asking him to pad his stats but perhaps at least get a stat would be nice. I’m pretty certain teams schemed against Lawrence Taylor and many other great pass rushers (which for $61 million Woodley should be) yet the great players always seem to make plays regardless. I’m not saying Woodley is terrible but anyone who says he’s earning that ridiculous contract is kidding themselves.

  • Jason

    Rest assured you aren’t alone. I just want one of these Woodley apologist to explain why this elite pass rusher is never ever double teamed despite the myth that he is. I invite any of them to point me to a game where he is double teamed at all. He is very often blocked 1 on 1 by TE’s. LOL. Someone posted that he was 16th in sacks and reasoned it to mean many teams have no Lb’s that productive. I would ask then how many of those 15 ahead of him have a $61 million contract.

  • moderatelysane

    And you would get the following answer if you asked. Determine the salary cap hit for the highest paid OLBs in the game, remove those on rookie contracts because it’s not a sane comparison, calculate a per game cost based on how many games they’ve played, and divide by the number of sacks they have to generate a per sack cost at this point in the season. Here’s that cost per sack calculation in $millions:

    Chad Greenway 1.90
    Paul Kruger 1.64
    Lance Briggs 1.62
    Thomas Davis 0.99
    Tamba Hali 0.86
    Lamarr Woodley 0.80
    Terrell Suggs 0.72
    Robert Mathis 0.41
    Elvis Dumervil 0.20

    Translation, we’ve paid $0.8M per sack thus far. The only top earning OLB that are cheaper are Suggs, Mathis, Dumervil. Suggs and Dumervil benefit from one another’s presence. There are alot of overpaid OLB out there, but Woodley isn’t one. Now if someone else can calculate coverage efficiency, we can begin to assess total value to team as well.

  • Brendon Glad

    Woodley has played relatively well so far, in my opinion. But I don’t think fans are being unfair at all to expect large production from him. If it weren’t a salary-cap league, then the demands placed on him by the fans would be unfair. But it is. So when the cap # is 9mil for 2013, he needs to be very productive, because many players get cut or passed over in order to sign those “9-15 million dollar/yr players”.

  • Brendon Glad

    If your numbers were correct that would be impressive research. But salary cap figure is the only way to fairly assess cost effectiveness. Because it’s the cap number which ultimately causes teams to bypass or cut other players in order to keep the Woodley’s of the world.

    And some of those other players actually make a tackle here and there as well. Instead of being a “sack or bust” guy.
    Woodley’s playing decently well though. Unfortunately, he needs to play like a superstar to have a cap number like he has.

  • Brendon Glad

    Therefore, so far the Steelers are paying $1.84 million/sack…not 0.8million.

  • HarryBackside

    The Raiders had very few runs to the right, and when they did, they were between the guard and tackle. I don’t know what Woodley was supposed to do differently.

  • HarryBackside

    Really?

    GIF 1 – you call that being blocked? Woodley jumped right over McFadden. If Bell had done that poor of a job against a rushing OLB, we’d cricify him.

    GIF 2 – Again, you call that being blocked? When Paulson does the same thing as the Raiders TE, we crucify him.

    GIF 4 – What pressure from the left? Based on your analysis from the previous plays, don’t you mean blocked? Woodley forced Pryor to step up in the pocket, where he was tackled for a loss. Shoving the RT back into the pocket equals zero pressure? OK buddy.

    GIF 5 – Again, what pressure from the left? To you, that’s being blocked. Which player coming from the left side gets anywhere near Pryor? Woodley drives the RT back into the pocket again, which forces Pryor to step up towards Heyward, which is why he ends up running towards the sideline for no gain.

    I see a lot of hypocrisy in you’re criticism. When ever an offensive players touches Woodley with even a finger, Woodley is “blocked”. When another Steelers defender gets stood up 5 yards away from the QB, he’s applying “pressure”.

  • HarryBackside

    Dave posted a link describing the scrape exchange in his previous article. Take the time to read it, and you will understand why Woodley crashes on McFadden.

  • moderatelysane

    That is correct. This is calculated based on cap hit, not base salary, and it’s calculated based on the number of games played by a given player. Since the Steelers have already had their bye, Woodley has played 7 games, whereas Hali and Kruger have played 8. I’d like to also see a breakdown by # of sacks per # of rushes.

  • HarryBackside

    Yup. Woodley’s numbers are limited because the rest of the defense is struggling to apply pressure. If you look at this years sack leaders, they are getting help from the other guys on defense.

    Robert Mathis – 11.5; Colts D – 21
    Mario Williams – 11; Bills D – 27
    Justin Houston – 11; Chiefs D – 36
    Robert Quinn – 10; Rams D – 25
    Tamba Hali – 9; Chiefs D – 36
    Terrell Suggs – 8; Ravens D – 25

    Woodley is doing his job, by getting pressure from his side. If the other side could get pressure, then Woodley would be getting to the QB more often (because the QB wouldn’t be able to slide away from him in the pocket), or other guys would be in a position to get a sack because of the pressure Woodley is applying from his side.

    There’s a reason football is considered the ultimate team sport. One guy can’t do it on his own.

  • HarryBackside

    Actually, those 5 GIF’s demonstrate very effective play. If these were GIF’s of Terrell Suggs doing the exact same thing to Marcus Gilbert, we would be screaming for Gilbert’s head, and calling him a bum. Of course, if these GIF’s featured Suggs, you would also see pressure coming from the other side of the line, and other guys making plays because of the pressure coming from Suggs.

  • moderatelysane

    I’ll also go a step further with some speculative numbers. Based on Marczi’s excellent analysis on August 4, Woodley rushes on an average of 65% of pass plays, whereas the league average is more like 75%. Matthew also noted that “top” rushers like Clay Matthews and Demarcus Ware rush more like 85% of passing plays. That means that Woodley gets between 15 and 25% fewer opportunities to make a sack. Add to that the fact that the steelers’ opponents have been ahead enough that the pass attempts against are down. In fact, the Steelers have the 2nd fewest pass attempts against per game. All of this means again that Woodley has had even fewer opportunities to make sacks. If you do the math, you’ll see that Woodley is still among the leaders in sacks per rush per dollar. This doesn’t even take into account that by rushing less Woodley is providing coverage more.

    The point of Dave’s article is that despite the apparent lack of noise by Woodley on this week’s stat sheet, he played well. If you look at his whole body of work for the year, the stats also suggest that he’s playing as good as most for the dollars we’re spending.

  • HarryBackside

    Bill, since you’re bringing up stats, why don’t you share with us how many of those LB’s are OLB’s in a 34 defense? You do realize the difference in responsibilities between an OLB in a 34 defense and a 43 defense, right? And I’m sure you can explain the difference in responsibilities between a 34 OLB, compared to a 34 ILB or 43 MLB. If you look again at the tackle stats you cited, you’ll notice that you have to go very down the list before you get to a 34 OLB.

    Apparently this is lost on you. Football is a team sport. Without the help of a respectable supporting cast, one man can only do so much. Take a look at the sack leaders, then check out the sack numbers for the entire defense. You will notice that the team sack leader is getting a lot of help from the other guys on defense.

  • HarryBackside

    Well said. Woodley also isn’t getting the help that the league’s top pass rushers are getting. In another comment up thread, I posted the number of sacks from the leagues top 6 pass rushers, along with the total number of sacks generated by that players team. They all have other players who are able to help generate pressure on the QB. The NFL isn’t the NBA. One guy can’t shoulder the load.

  • HarryBackside

    He would be producing more, if the rest of the defense was capable of producing a pass rush. The guys who appear to be more productive than Woodley, have other players on the team who can also apply pressure. When Mario Williams puts pressure on the QB, someone else is squeezing the pocket from the other side. The result, either Williams gets a sack, or the pressure he applies creates an opportunity for another player to get a sack. Unless the right side of the Steelers front 7 steps up, Woodley can only do so much.

    Keisel has the second most sacks on the team. The scheme isn’t designed for a DE to be one of the teams sack leaders. The fact that he is tells you everything you need to know about the lack of pressure coming from the rest of the front 7.

  • cencalsteeler

    What a breath of fresh air your statement was. Thank you!!

  • Jason

    Well Harry you clearly misunderstood my point. My point was that in Gif 1 he was blocked by McFadden who made a terrble effort therefore that was the reason he got pressure I did not mean that McFadden did a good job blocking him, ditto with the TE on Gif 2. So no hypocrisy here. Perhaps we could post all the Gif’s where he was dominated by a rookie 6th rd RT but that would take all day.

  • HarryBackside

    Then it would be incorrect to say that Woodley was blocked, since he clearly wasn’t. It sounds like you’re also making an assumption that McFadden would have been capable of blocking Woodley. Considering that Woodley regularly drives 315 lb OT’s into the back field. If McFadden goes high on Woodley, he becomes nothing more than a speed bump.

    McFadden actually made a decent effort in his attempt to block Woodley. McFadden fails because Woodley is able to side step McFadden, while still maintaining his momentum towards the QB. It was a great play by Woodley.

    In GIF #2, the effort from the TE is irrelevant. Woodley has a quicker first step, and flat out beats the TE around the edge. Again, great play by Woodley.

    The fact that you went out of your way to suggest that Woodley did a poor job on these plays, or that he was only successful because of the failure of the offense just shows that you have no credibility, or objectivity on the subject.

  • Jason

    Oh yes and you seem very objective. Get your Woodley jersey ready for Sunday, can’t wait to see him drive all these 315 lb tackles into the backfield. LOL

  • Jason

    Big time players require double teams opening up plays for their less talented teammates ala Harrison with Woodley. Harrison required so much attention that Woodley was free to make plays and to his credit he made them. Now that Woodley has no big time threat opposite him he is not able to provide Worilds or Jones with the same opportunities because he doesn’t require double teams. It could be looked at this way to Harry. Listen I, like I assume all Woodley critics, hope he comes out and plays great every week and cheer every play he makes but after taking the advice of a friend and going back and watching him on every play I feel he leaves a lot to be desired often times. As soon as people question Woodley their football IQ is called into question. I played 4 years at Mount Union and though that alone doesn’t make me an expert I feel I know a little football as you seem to as well. So it looks like we will all just agree to disagree, GO STEELERS!

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