Steelers Lineup Turnover 2014 – Right Outside Linebacker

When you look back just to the start of last season and project the starting lineup that the Pittsburgh Steelers can be expected to field when they resume play in September, you’ll see that they’ve undergone quite a bit of change. Certainly more than usual.

With two exceptions—Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell—the changes to the opening day lineup will be made either due to free agency losses or gains or simply superior play. The two aforementioned players, of course, projected as starters but missed the early portions of last season due to injury.

This series will take a look primarily at the starting positions that will be filled by new faces, replacing the old faces that are now gone—Emmanuel Sanders, Ziggy Hood, LaMarr Woodley, Larry Foote, and Ryan Clark.

Position: Right Outside Linebacker

2013 Opening Day Starter: Jason Worilds

Projected 2014 Starter: Jarvis Jones

Jason Worilds was the opening day starter at right outside linebacker, and would have been the primary player at the position for the bulk of the season if he didn’t have to be shifted to the left side in a move that was necessitated by LaMarr Woodley’s injury.

The Steelers plugged in Jarvis Jones by the second week, but it wasn’t long before they realized they’d erred and put Worilds back into the starting lineup, so for that reason I’m considering Worilds as the primary right outside linebacker last season if all had gone to plan.

Still, Jones wound up starting eight games last season at right outside linebacker, recording 40 tackles, though managing just one sack. He batted down four passes, but managed no splash plays outside of a single sack, though his pressure did help force one interception.

Worilds, meanwhile, recorded eight sacks and forced two fumbles on top of 63 tackles, which is a nice total for a 3-4 outside linebacker. While ideally we will see improvement from both outside linebackers, it’s clear that Jones has higher to climb.

Last season, the Steelers had options—a fallback plan. They had three outside linebackers. After having released Woodley, they will be relying on Chris Carter and Arthur Moats as the primary depth at the position.

In other words, it’s crucial that Jones not only take that next step this year, but also stay healthy. He did miss two games in his rookie year, though neither were explicitly due to conventional injury. He suffered a concussion early in the year, which forced him to miss a game, and he sat out another late in the season with an illness.

Worilds also battled injury late, and as a result we got a glimpse of what the defense would look like if the Steelers were forced to rely on their backups at the pass rushing positions.

So much of the potential of this defense going forward depends upon Jones taking the next step, and unlike most of the team’s younger players, he’s losing the training wheels in just his second season.

Worilds couldn’t crack the starting lineup until his fourth season. Cameron Heyward had to wrest a starting job from Ziggy Hood mid-season in year three. Cortez Allen saw a gradual ascent to starter by year three, where he nonetheless stumbled and got benched.

Pittsburgh can’t afford to bench Jones again in year two. There’s no one left to bench him for.

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

    Matthew, how did Worilds stack up on the right side vs the left side?

    I seem to recall his play being far from outstanding until he switched sides, but I could be wrong.

  • joed32

    I remember it the same way.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    You are correct as he exploded once he moved to the left side.

  • JAMESH

    I’m reading the last sentence of the article and rightly or wrongly, I couldn’t help but think “James Harrison.”

  • gene mann

    I agree that James would be a good addition especailly with questionable starters and no reserves

  • Dewayne Braxton

    We all love James but the reality is that he barely played for the Bengals. Now he has been released. This means he is so washed up that they decided he wasn’t worth keeping the second year. Moreover, I am sure other teams need OLB depth too but they will not call Harrison. Steeler Nation has fallen in love with over the hill players and we have also become comfortable with the McClendons, Beachums, Legursky, Essex, John Dwyers, Meweldee Moore’s, Jonathan Scotts, and numerous other bumbs who should never have worn the Steeler’s uniform. We don’t need another guy we’d have sit a round rooting for-hoping he’s got a little gas left in the tank. We are niether the Browns nor the Lions. Lets raise our standards to where they use to be.

  • Josh Knepshield

    James Harrison is still very effective. He had a very positive Pro Football Focus grade, but the Bengals did not use him correctly IMO

  • SfSteeler

    i think we have a stack of ‘potential’, meaning young growing/learning talent, @ ILB and ZERO ‘potential’ @ OLB…

    i think james has some 3-4 olb sub package time left in him, but we wont be spending the $$$ on him…

    so, given that, the question is, where are we more weak, OLB or CB?

    ANSWER, OLB!

  • Matt Manzo

    The more we keep talking about the more surprised I am that we didn’t take an OLB somewhere in the draft! I thought we’d have great depth at OLB and CB after the draft.
    I’m still thinking we make a move on OLB before the season starts. No way the FO is comfortable with Carter.
    The first moves already been made, when they had Zumwalt at OLB his first day here. If that works out, great. If not we either bring James back or someone else.
    I’m fine hoping that Zum and HJones can be awesome, but we gotta have another option other than Carter.

  • shawn

    Its called the draft …. next year … top 3 picks likely to be CB, OLB, TE no order

  • Dewayne Braxton

    I do see your point but I think the Steelers watched tap of every snap Harrison played last year and determined that this stage of the game Carter, Moats, and/or Zumwalt are better players. Our backers have to be able to run and cover. Last time I looked, it seemed like you could time Harrison with a sun dial. He is a popular player known for his physical play. If he had anything left, he’d be signed by now. Just MO.

  • Matt Manzo

    For some reason I get the same feeling I had when we kept Sanders instead of getting the Pats 3rd rounder? Like we’re missing out on something?
    At the time it made sense to keep him if we thought he’d be a part of turning us around. But in hindsight we’d all rather have that third.
    I’m fine waiting til next draft, but something feels funny about the whole thing.

  • shawn

    ya I’m with you on that … that was a really bad call that wasn’t looking at the future … we should have took the 3rd rounder .. would have helped with the rebuilding process sooner …

    I hope we get a comp pick from him next year … who knows … but all things considered i think we are in good shape … we should pretty much complete our rebuilding process next year with the addition of a CB & TE … and OLB … and maybe another OL depending on how they do this year … i wouldnt worry too much unless the injury bug bites us hard again …

    the biggest challenge we are going to have going forward is keeping and extending our young talent !

  • Matt Manzo

    Ya! The injury bug is the only thing im worried about! I can’t wait to see these guys play!

  • Smashmouth

    IMHO i still think the steelers will be able to address the depth issue either after june 1 when there will be more funds available or during training camp when other teams start shaking up there rosters

  • ApexSteel

    He’s not a 4-3 OLB at all. That’s why he played so badly he wasn’t in his correct position.

  • Ernest

    I’ll go ahead and assume FO targets OLB with 1st rd if a deal cant get done with Worilds.

    I know its waaaayy to early but here are some names to watch this college season Randy Gregrory (Neb) Vic Beasley (Clem), Shilique Calhoun(Mich St), Dante Fowler Jr.(FL),Noah Spence(OhioSt),

  • shawn

    depending on how he & JJ plays … but if he wants much more than 7mil a year i would let him hit FA … and take the 3rd round comp pick & draft his replacement early like u said… we can’t afford high-priced players that aren’t stars …and i dont think he will be a star or worth that type of money … we still need to pay Ben & Cam & Cortez & prob Pouncey … if the choice came down to paying CAM or WORILDS … my vote wouldnt even be close … it would be CAM by a mile !

  • SfSteeler

    in answer to my own question, if Shazier and Tuitt catch on quick, as they have graduated and can actually practice, this creates a fine front 7 of pressure, even with little behind them…BUT,

    i still dont see the FO confidence in our bench coverage…Shark has coverage skills, but his future is at safety…and if one CB goes down then we have, short and shorter waiting in the wings…:(

  • Dewayne Braxton

    True, I see your point.

  • Josh

    Yes, but it’s easier to understand the decision when you think of the politics. You simply couldn’t sell BR7 on passively allowing 2 of their 3 top receivers to leave with a questionable Heath coming back from injury.