LaMarr Woodley has received a fair amount of criticism over the past year, coming off two consecutive down seasons. The Pittsburgh Steelers left outside linebacker had established himself as one of the NFL’s premier young edge rushers, notching an average of 12 sacks between 2008 and 2010, before combining for just 13 over the past two years.
It didn’t help his public perception when coaches speculated on Woodley showing up to camp out of shape last offseason, which was deserved. With Woodley improving his form for this iteration of Steelers training camp, it seemed this storyline would soon give way to whatever his preseason play warranted.
Then Woodley gave a (probably unintended) glancing shot at his Hall of Fame defensive coordinator.
“I’d definitely like to get back to doing more rushing than dropping back in coverage because my game is predicated on sacks and this defense is predicated on getting to the quarterback, making quarterbacks make bad decisions and allowing our secondary to make plays,” Woodley said recently, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
I would be surprised if Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau took any real offence to this, but Woodley’s words to the media are a dicey way of deflecting the blame after two sub-par years. These words could end up ringing true and it will be interesting to see how Woodley’s usage changes in 2013.
For reference, in 2012, Woodley spent 135 snaps in pass coverage and 245 snaps rushing the passer in 2012, compared to 247 in pass coverage and 504 snaps rushing the passer in 2010. Obviously, he missed many more snaps due to injury in 2012 than his last great year in 2010, but it’s easy to see that Woodley’s comments weren’t out of left field.