I will admit it, I thought that Jason Worilds’ days with the Steelers were numbered after he lost his starting job to rookie Jarvis Jones at right outside linebacker. While Worilds had been the team’s primary backup at the left outside linebacker spot during his first three years in the league, the fact that he was unable to hold off a rookie for James Harrison’s old spot was worrisome.
To Worilds’ credit though, he didn’t cave after he surrendered his starting job in his contract season. He not only usurped the former Georgia Bulldog for the starting job on the right side, he has now established himself as the most effective outside linebacker and pass rusher on Pittsburgh’s roster.
Over the last five weeks, Worilds has racked up 5.0 of his team-leading 6.0 sacks, made 28 tackles, and provided a tremendous amount of pocket collapse on the edges. I should also mention that the former Virginia Tech Hokie has actually done most of his damage setting the edge against the run and attacking opposing signal-callers on the left side as opposed to the right.
In fact, Worilds has stepped in for LaMarr “Mr. Stay Puft” Woodley at the left outside linebacker position during the last three weeks and done a tremendous job in place of the underachieving veteran. Just last night, Worilds racked up 10 tackles, 2.0 sacks, and forced a fumble against the Baltimore Ravens from Woodley’s old spot.
Now fully healed from a wrist injury and a subsequent which he underwent in 2012, Pittsburgh’s 2010 second round pick has finally been able to illustrate what he can do when he has been given the opportunity to start. Unfortunately for the Steelers, Worilds’ rookie contract will be expiring at the end of this season. This in turn will force Pittsburgh’s front office to make an extremely difficult decision:
Will the cap-strapped franchise allow the up-and-coming Worilds to walk?
Or will they release the injury-prone, salary cap-albatross known as “Woodley” to free up extra money to ink Worilds and other impending free agents?
At least to me, the choice is quite clear. Jarvis Jones has the tools to be a solid player at the right outside linebacker spot down the road for this franchise, and he will only continue to improve with game experience. In addition, Worilds has illustrated how comfortable yet explosive he can be as a strongside pass-rusher from the left side. Furthermore, his price tag, age, and recent bill of health make him the left outside linebacker for this cap-strapped team to build around, not “Mr. Stay Puft.”
As of now, I’m officially on the “Keep Worilds” bandwagon. So if that means dumping expensive veterans who are past their primes like Woodley and Ike Taylor to keep him, then I am completely on board with that as well.
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