Yesterday during training camp in Latrobe, PA, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley stated that he wants to rush the quarterback more in 2013. According to Woodley, he was held back by defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau last season on passing downs and was allowed to rush the quarterback only 50 percent of the time.
The seven-year pro prefers to rush rather than drop back in coverage. “They pay me to rush, so hopefully I will be rushing and not covering receivers and tight ends down the field,” says Woodley.
Pittsburgh’s starting left outside linebacker continued to elaborate on his purpose in the Steelers’ defensive scheme and what the defense as a whole is centered around.
“My game is predicated on sacks and this defense is predicated on getting to the quarterback, making him make bad decisions and allowing our secondary to make plays.”
Looking at the Steelers’ defensive numbers from last season, I would have to agree with Woodley. Even though Pittsburgh finished first in the league in overall defense in 2012, their sack numbers were not eye-popping. Last year Pittsburgh got to the quarterback 37 times. Woodley only contributed four of those sacks, although he did miss three games. The year before that the Steelers only mustered up 35 sacks.
Looking at the past two years, Pittsburgh could definitely use a boost in their pass rush. Using Woodley more aggressively could open up opportunities for either Jason Worilds or rookie Jarvis Jones on the right side of the defense. In turn, the production of Worilds and/or Jones could do the same for Woodley.
Furthermore, Woodley’s sack total since he’s become a starter in the league supports his reasoning even more. From 2008-11, Woodley has tallied 44 of his 52 career sacks. In 2009, he even made the Pro Bowl with a career-high 13.5 sacks.
Pittsburgh has shown year in and year out that they have one of the league’s best defensive units. Even without a ton of sacks and turnovers last season, the Steelers still managed to come out on top as the NFL’s best defense. Unleashing Woodley more could be what Pittsburgh needs in order to be undoubtedly the most dominant defense in 2013.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+