Talk Of Playing Jason Worilds On The Left Side Must Consider The Impact On LaMarr Woodley

By Matthew Marczi

The idea that Jason Worilds plays better on the left side of the defense has followed him around for most of his career. That may well be true; throughout his career, he has generated more pressure against the pass on a per-play basis on the left side.

Though three of his four sacks this season have come from the right side (the fourth came from an inside coverage position), Worilds’ Pass Rushing Productivity from the left side is nearly two points higher this season on the left.

In 80 pass rushes on the left side, Worilds has seven quarterback hits and four hurries. In 96 snaps on the right side, he has three sacks and seven hurries.

Looking back at last season, Worilds only played 22 snaps on the right side, and he only managed one sack. He started several games on the left side for LaMarr Woodley, however, to the tune of 144 snaps, and he registered 15 total pressures, with three sacks.

2011 was a similarly imbalanced season. When James Harrison missed four games due to an injury, Worilds was injured at the same time, missing a golden opportunity to start on the right side. As a result, he only played 23 snaps on the right, for three pressures. On the left side, he registered 27 pressures on 172 rushes with three sacks.

Although the workload differential between the left side and the right side prior to this season has been massive, it is an accurate statement to say that Worilds has been more successful on the left side.

Thus, it’s no surprise that there was some talk after the past game about getting Worilds more snaps on the left side, even after Woodley returns.

The question that this raises, however, is how this will affect Woodley, who is the team’s best pass rusher.

Woodley is perhaps the single most one-sided outside linebacker in the league. Since 2008, Woodley has rushed the passer from the outside 1721 times. Twelve of those pass rushes came on the right side.

The sample size is far too small and far too spaced out to draw any conclusions as to how Woodley might perform on the right side. While he has not recorded a sack on the right side, he has had three pressures, but to use that to project future performance would be in error.

Who knows what will happen going forward. The Steelers have been moving their outside linebackers around a lot this season in ways that they seemingly haven’t in years past, so who’s to say they won’t get Woodley more snaps on the right side, even if it’s not something with which he has experience? Of course, before that can happen, he must get back on the field.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Woodley is the best pass rusher, as you correctly noted. Like James Harrison in the past, he should try the ROLB position. He looks like the strongest they have and that side would provide more opportunity for him to get to the QB from the blindside. Also he has the experience to know when to lunge for the QB’s arm, or try for the “Strip-Sack”. On paper it seems like it could be great.

    Obviously he has suffered from not having the best years of Harrison on the other side recently, and football is not played on paper, so we can always think up ideas. Whether they are used is another thing.

  • cencalsteeler

    I would like to see them bring back Woodley by sharing some time on the right with Jones. Pairing these two together would get these two to start sharing information, thus helping further the development of Jones.

  • Rick M

    It’s a good article and question. It’s kind of ironic; every time I see Jason get a sack or hurry from the left side I think ‘uh oh, his free agency value just went up’.

    It doesn’t seem to make much sense for the Steelers to offer Worilds a long-term deal based on his right-side play. So they almost have to find out if Woodley can play the right side when he gets healthy again so they can make the best decision about re-signing Worilds. There’s no doubt that other teams have noticed that Worilds can be pretty effective from the left side.


    If Woodley can even be 90% of James Harrison from the right side, Worilds, Woodley, Timmons, and Jones sounds pretty formidable.

  • Rick M

    I assume you’re suggesting Jones moves inside. Might be a darn good move with his quickness and instincts, but lack of a bull rush. Guess we’ll find out relatively soon what their long-term LB’ing vision given Worilds’ FA.

  • Russ Ruffing

    Woodley the best pass rusher on the Steelers? You have GOT to be kidding me! Worild’s showed last week how the LOLB position is supposed to be played. Woodley hasn’t shown that much impact on any single game since at least the 2011 season.

    The Steelers simply CANNOT pay Woodley what they pay him for the production that he provides. In a cap world, value has to equal or exceed salary. And the simple fact is that Woodley is a below-average LB at best yet is being paid like one of the best. People need to evaluate players on who they are NOW, not who they were several seasons ago or who we wish they still were. An honest evaluation of Woodley proves that he is not a very good LB in this league any longer.

  • greeny

    Well said. We should not be paying him 13 million dollars next year.