I don’t think I need to remind anybody that Pittsburgh’s All-Pro OLB James Harrison will be unable to lace ‘em up this upcoming Monday. This is of course the consequence of Roger Goodell’s on-going attempt to flip the proverbial “bird” to those of us that enjoy hard-nosed play and feel that 6’1” QB’s who want to venture outside the pocket do so at their own risk.
But before I go off on a rant, I would like to discuss a few things about Harrison’s replacement for Monday’s Game, Jason Worilds. Not only would I like to describe the importance of Worlids to the Steelers Defense for this week, the rest of 2011, and into the future, but I also discuss how this could be a golden opportunity for Worilds to show what he can do and really make the most of his new found playing time. So hit that “Continue Reading” button and let’s get started.
Why the Steelers Need Worilds to Shine
James Harrison Factor:
Deebo is going to not only be on a short leash for the rest of this season, but he will likely spend the rest of his career in his “Imperial Majesty Goodell’s” dog-house. If Harrison continues to fail to adjust to the new rules regarding “player safety” his career will inevitably be cut short.
Granted, Deebo is only suspended for one game. Nevertheless, “Big Brother” is watching, and Harrison can ill-afford to pull any of his shenanigans (while they may be awesome and were likely legal only 3 years ago). Say against the Rams or the Browns, Harrison lays the wood to somebody in a manner that may be construed as “dirty,” Goodell and his cronies will likely seek to suspend him for multiple games in the postseason.
In addition, Deebo is turning 34 in the 2012 offseason and the tread on his tires may in fact be running low. The back injuries plus the fear of future suspensions make Deebo’s status a mystery past the 2012 season. Thus, it is imperative that Jason Worilds use this new opportunity to take some names, kick some ass, and prove that he is indeed worthy of starting for the Steelers. It will not only benefit Worilds in terms of future playing time, but it will also leave the Steelers with a viable option behind Harrison in the event that Deebo is suspended/retires.
LaMarr Woodley’s Injury and LaMarr Woodley in General:
Let’s face it, I have no idea what to expect from LaMarr this Monday, and let alone for the rest of the 2011 season. First of all, the status of his hamstring is supposedly fine, but isn’t that what they said about it leading up to the Cincinnati game two weeks ago? Moreover, while Woodley has shown flashes of brilliance this season, his performance overall has been mediocre at best.
Will we get the LaMarr Woodley from the last 3 games he played in before his injury? You know, creating havoc and pressuring the QB. Or will we get the LaMarr Woodley from the season’s first four weeks? Just completely atrocious play and creating zero pressure despite being singled up on numerous occasions.
My misgivings on the Woodley extension have been illustrated on this website, so I believe I don’t need to go into any more detail with regards to how his inconsistent play did not warrant a $61.5 million dollar deal. Hopefully, Woodley is healthy and can revert to his 2008 form at this critical point in the 2011 season. Nevertheless, the Steelers must be prepared to find ways to pressure the QB if Woodley isn’t 100% healthy, or simply a ghost out there. And if Woodley falters, Worilds could be shouldering quite a bit of the load for the Steelers’ Pass Rush at the OLB spot in the upcoming weeks.
Worilds Is Getting His “Shot” and It’s A-Okay with me
While I understand that LeBeau and John Mitchell are a bit reluctant to play Rookies and youngsters that do not quite get the complex schemes, I do in fact believe that some players can benefit by being thrown into the proverbial “fire” and learn more by “doing” than by sitting. Worilds is now nearing the end of his 2nd season in the League, and while he is only 23 this extended playing time should be good for everybody: the Coaches, Worilds, and us the fans.
The raw talent of the 6’2″ 262 lb. Worilds has been illustrated here and there over the last couple of seasons. While not receiving extended P.T. at OLB until this season, Worilds has shown an ability to rush the passer and is just scratching the surface of his talent. His combination of size and speed make him an ideal fit for the 3-4 OLB position and it seems that all of the pieces are starting to come together for him.
Worilds’ performance at the end of the Miami game last season (he filled in for an injured Woodley) where he terrorized Chad Henne on the final drive and in the 4th Quarter was a nice preview for us the fans of what could be the future of this franchise at one of the two OLB spots. But last Thursday’s performance against Cleveland where he notched 9 Tackles and 2.0 Sacks was pretty nice as well.
It now finally seems that Worilds, who came out of Virginia Tech with a year of eligibility remaining and some injury concerns (shoulder in college and quad in the pros), is fulfilling the expectations that LB Coach and D.C. in waiting Keith Butler has had in store for him. The more P.T. that Worilds gets, the more the Coaching Staff can gauge him as a prospect and future cog in their championship machine. In my opinion, it’s a “glass half full” way of looking at Harrison being suspended.
Now Worilds has his best shot to prove himself, and it is time to see whether or not the 2nd Round pick was well spent by Colbert and Crew. I’m personally stoked to see if the guy can “Nut Up” in a positive manner and is ready to become the “Next” elite OLB churned out by the Steelers organization since they installed the 3-4 Defense in the 1980′s.
So here’s hoping that the 2010 Special Teams demon (led the team in ST tackles in 2010) can keep improving over the next few weeks and become an ultimate pass rushing force. The tools and flashes of talent are there, now it’s time to see Jason take full advantage.
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