You do not buy a vacuum cleaner to do an air conditioner's job. You do not have a Harley haul a boat. You cannot get a Doberman to be a lap dog. And you should not often ask Steelers outside left linebacker LaMarr Woodley to drop into pass coverage. Woodley listed as 6 feet 2 265 pounds is built to stop the run pressure the quarterback sack the quarterback obliterate the quarterback. He has done a nice job of it too rated No. 1 in 2009 by Pro Football Focus (PFF) doing just that. He had quarterbacks quivering through the first half of 2011 with nine sacks in the first eight games. Since then he's had four sacks in the past 1 1/2 seasons. What happened to the quarterback meat grinder that was LaMarr Woodley? Injuries big time and something else Woodley mentioned Wednesday something that helped conspire to keep him off the quarterback -- the Steelers defense. "I felt I dropped back a lot last year in coverage" Woodley stated. What? Woodley covering tight ends running pass routes instead of bringing the heat on the guy trying to throw them the ball? "That's part of this scheme" Woodley shrugged. True enough Dick LeBeau long ago came up with the idea of the zone-blitz defense and it has served the Steelers well. Part of the scheme is masking who might rush the passer vs. who might drop into zone pass coverage. That way offenses can not load up against -- or play away from -- a defense's best pass rusher. Kevin Greene who has more official sacks than any linebacker in NFL history bragged about his ability to drop into pass coverage with the Steelers. James Harrison was in pass coverage when he picked off Kurt Warner and ran 100 yards for a touchdown in the Super Bowl XLIII. Harrison was rated by PFF as the most effective pass rusher in the NFL over the past five years. Woodley was rated No. 7 and would have been higher if it weren't for his ineffectiveness for one reason or another the past 1 1/2 years.
Linebacker Woodley hopes to make a comeback as pass rusher
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Aug 1