Decline of Steelers' Woodley puzzling
So, what's wrong with LaMarr Woodley?
That's the question that's being asked on the heels of his most unproductive season, including Sunday's one-tackle, one-assist, no-sack game against Cincinnati.
Woodley, who has been hampered by hamstring and ankle injuries this year, had been one of the more dominant pass rushers in the league over the past five years, but he has only four sacks and 12 pressures all season. He hasn't had a pressure or a sack since Nov. 4 against the Giants — some 195 snaps.
Against the Bengals, it was much of the same.
Woodley rushed the passer 26 times (his second most this year), with 20 of those coming one-on-one against tackle Andre Smith, who had allowed seven sacks and 24 hurries coming into the game.
Woodley rushed Andy Dalton nine times over the final 14 snaps of the game but never got a hand on the Bengals' quarterback.
But what may be more concerning than that is Woodley's play in the run game. Woodley has been just as dominant a run-stopper over his career but struggled with Cincinnati tight end Jermaine Gresham.
Woodley took part in defending 17 run plays, with 11 of those coming while being one-on-one blocked by tight ends Gresham or Orson Charles.
In defense of Woodley, he has been asked to drop into coverage a lot this year. He was asked to cover either a tight end or a back 21 times against the Bengals. Woodley has dropped into coverage 35 percent of the time this year.
• With Keenan Lewis not 100 percent, the onus of following A.J. Green around the field fell to Cortez Allen. Despite Green catching 10 passes for 116 yards, Allen more than held his own. Green was involved in 63 plays and Allen lined up across from him 43 times, allowing six catches for 60 yards while picking off a pair of passes. When the Steelers went to the nickel, either Curtis Brown or Josh Victorian covered Green. Despite Allen's success, the Steelers switched up coverages late in the game. Lewis covered Green on four of Cincinnati's final six plays, including allowing Green's 21-yard reception with eight seconds left to set up the game-winning field goal. Lewis had covered Green four other times over the previous 57 plays.
• A week after Ben Roethlisberger said he was disappointed that they didn't run more no-huddle, Ben Roethlisberger got more of an opportunity Sunday. The Steelers ran five no-huddle plays with varying success. Roethlisberger completed a 7-yard pass to Heath Miller; overthrew Mike Wallace for what looked like a sure touchdown and hooked up with Antonio Brown for the game's only offensive score — a 60-yard pass. The other times the Steelers ran the no huddle didn't work very well, as Rashard Mendenhall was stopped for a negative run on a key third down and Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 3 yards.
• Roethlisberger, like many right-handed quarterbacks, feels more comfortable throwing the ball to the right rather than across his body to the left. Against the Bengals, it was the opposite. Heading into last week's game, Roethlisberger had 95 attempts and 10 touchdowns when he threw to the right. Against the Bengals, Roethlisberger attempted only two passes outside the numbers and to the right, with one of them being the most influential play of the game — Reggie Nelson's interception with 14 seconds left. The week before, 11 of Roethlisberger's 36 attempts were to the left. The Week 7 win over Cincinnati, Roethlisberger attempted 13 passes outside and to the right.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Wild Wednesday proves Steelers rule
- Steelers submit application to play host to Super Bowl in 2023
- Australians rule punting competition for chance to play for Steelers
- Rossi: Moats looks to make a splash with Steelers
- Steelers to honor Bettis with ring ceremony in October
- Offseason training helping to accelerate adjustment to NFL life
- Running back Williams isn’t wrestling with role in Steelers’ backfield
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin stresses players remain in top physical shape