Exploring Jason Worilds And Pass Rushing Productivity

The Pittsburgh Steelers are committing a large chunk of both cash and cap space to outside linebacker Jason Worilds this offseason, who signed a transition tag worth close to $10 million for the 2014 season.

The four-year veteran pass rusher was only asked to be a starter for the first time in 2013, having been playing behind two Pro Bowl-caliber starters in James Harrison—who was released last offseason—and LaMarr Woodley—who was released just last month due to chronic injuries and a high cap number.

Worilds, of course, is being paid to be able to rush the passer, and by season’s end, he did put up respectable figures. He ranked eighth in pass rushing productivity among 3-4 outside linebackers by Pro Football Focus, with a score of 10.4.

Much of that productivity came in the second half of the season, after he moved over to left outside linebacker to fill in for Woodley.

The numbers do show that Worilds had more success as a pass rusher on the left side than the right last season, but that’s not much of a surprise to anybody that watched him play throughout the season.

His pass rushing productivity rate on the left side was 11.3, while on the right, he managed just 8.6. Still, that is notably better than what Jarvis Jones was able to register in his rookie season. He finished the year with a rate of 6.9, among the worst from 3-4 outside linebackers with the qualified numbers of snaps.

It’s worth pointing out that Worilds’ shift to the left side also coincided with his harnessing of his pass rushing repertoire, most significantly his spin move, which he has learned to use with great effect, so I’m hesitant to oversell the value of playing on the left side.

As a matter of fact, Worilds’ improvement began the game before moving over to the left side, in Week Nine. In that game, he registered a PRP score of 22.2, notching one sack and four hurries on 18 pass rushes. Only three rushes and one hurry came from the left side in that game.

From Week Nine to Week 14, in fact, he had quite a stretch of efficiency, registering a pass rushing productivity rate of 13.6 over that span. Six of his eight sacks came from that span of games before he began to battle with injuries.

Those injuries affected his productivity, although he did manage to notch one more sack in Week 16. Yet the injury was significant enough limit his snaps in the last couple weeks and to sit out the season finale.

The Steelers are banking on the chances that Worilds had indeed turned the corner down the stretch last season. He had a nice stretch of highly productive games that tailed off in a way that coincided with injury. Now it’s time to see if that can be sustained over a full season for the first time in his career.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • steeltown

    Im not overly concerned with Worilds, we want him to stay healthy of course but that can be said about ANY of our players. My concern is with Jarvis Jones and his 2nd yr output, that output will go a long way in deciding the overall disruptiveness of the ’14 defense

  • Eric MacLaurin

    It’s hard to understand why it would be a question that it’s easier to rush from the left side. Thinking about that while remembering our efforts to find a viable LT really show why the positions are so different.

    I also try to avoid looking at even smaller sample sizes than an NFL season unless you look at individual matchups. It’s easy to have a good streak at some point in a season and unless you correct for stretches where you have substandard competition I’m not sure you get an accurate picture.

  • treeher

    Right side plays against offense’s left tackle which is usually the #1 lineman. Also, I played OL in college and it’s sort of like being right handed/left handed. You get more comfortable on one side – everything gets reversed when you switch sides.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Back in 2010, the Steelers had Lamar Woodley and James Harrison both performing at very high levels. We had greater needs in many other areas, and yet we spent a mid 2nd round pick on ANOTHER pass rushing OLB (Worilds).

    I bring this up because I think some fans are discounting they way the Steelers front office views the importance of OLB. I would not be surprised at all if the Steelers selected another pass rusher in the 1st or 2nd round this year (like Barr, Ford, Attaochu, Lawrence, etc).

    We currently have serious SERIOUS issues at OLB. Worilds might refuse to sign long term because he knows he can get more money elsewhere (just like Wallace did). Jarvis might turn out to be just a decent player and not an impact player (just like Hood was). There’s a lot of uncertainty there.

    I know everybody wants to go CB and WR in rounds 1 and 2, but i think OLB is just as likely. Especially with the Steelers recent success in finding 3rd round talent at CB. The Steelers philosophy has always been rush the passer first. Cover the receivers second. And right now we kind of suck at pass rushing.

  • steeltown

    Very true. I think they can honestly go BPA through the entire draft, we need more playmakers at CB, DL, WR and LB for sure, but could also use better depth at RB, OL and TE as well. They do historically do well drafting WR and CB in the 3rd and 4th Rds, so they could very well go DL and OLB early just as easily as WR and CB

  • charles

    Worilds and Heywood together seemed to play off each other, we saw that as early as the end of the Buffalo game last year. If we can duplicate that with Jones (or Moats) by drafting a right end then the Steelers would be a team to be reckoned with.

  • Jay Jaber

    I have a strong gut feeling that Jarvis will surprise a lot of people in a good way. A lot of teams will regret passing on him

  • Paul Barracliffe

    I think that signing him to a long term deal would be foolish. i wanna see him get the $ this year and prove that he’s worth it. I think with the free agents signed, the upcoming draft, the june 1st cap savings, Big Ben extension or Timmons restructure pissibiliities we have the cap/roster flexibility to avoid having to overcommit to him.

  • Matt Manzo

    I’m expecting more from him than any other player this year! Gotta show us he belongs!

  • pittsburghjoe

    I would like to know how his off season conditioning program is going. I hope he has put on some muscle and a couple of pounds. I also hope he finds another move or two…. I really think this guy is still a couple of years away unfortunately.