By Matthew Marczi
Jason Worilds may have played the best game of his career up to this point in the Steelers’ latest lost to the Ravens, but it had more to do with his work versus the run than against the pass, despite the fact that he registered two sacks, including a strip sack that forced a Joe Flacco fumble.
Earlier this season when asked about playing Worilds on the left side, linebackers coach Keith Butler cited a tendency of teams to be heavily right-handed when it comes to the running game, which is why he preferred to keep LaMarr Woodley at left outside linebacker despite Worilds seemingly playing better there than on the right.
Well, his latest audition tape as a run stuffer was admittedly rather impressive, so regardless of whether or not Butler’s observation is true, I think Worilds has done enough to make it a conversation when Woodley comes back about moving the latter to right outside linebacker, which previously seemed absurd.
Early in the game, on a second and 10 run, he easily evaded the blocks of both Ed Dickson and Michael Oher to run all the way across the formation and make the diving tackle of Ray Rice after a short gain. He did it primarily with speed—a speed which, frankly, he has never shown consistently before. Who would have thought that playing time breeds comfort, and therefore consistency.
Later in the first quarter, Worilds once again got the better of Dickson, this time using his size advantage to overpower the tight end, carrying Dickson with him as he crashed inside to make the tackle on Bernard Pierce on a gain of just three.
Yet again on first down, in the middle of the second quarter, Worilds kept the Ravens behind the chains by holding their early series runs to short gains. If only the Steelers could have gotten off the field consistently on third and longs, we would be talking about a different game.
On this occasion, Worilds was left unblocked on a run in the opposite direction. However, thanks to his seemingly newfound speed, he was able to get in on the play in backside pursuit, running behind the backs of the linemen to chase Rice down after a three-yard gain.
A few plays later, Worilds made a similar play to the tackle on Pierce, riding Dickson’s block down the line and making the tackle. This time, he even pushed Oher out of the way and jumped on Rice like a cheetah on a gazelle. He’s certainly earning himself some money.