The more astute observer might have noticed that the Pittsburgh Steelers had been more adventurous in recent weeks in terms of how they chose to employ fifth-year outside linebacker Jason Worilds on the field.
Over the course of the previous few weeks, the Steelers elected to move Worilds around a fair bit, particularly moving him behind the defensive line and using him as an interior rusher.
To be fair, the Steelers had also done this with the other outside linebackers as well, but it seemed to be most common with Worilds.
That was not the case this past Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Steelers left Worilds in his natural position lined up as the left outside linebacker on 56 of the team’s 57 defensive snaps.
The lone exception came on the final defensive play of the first half, when he lined up at left inside linebacker and brought pressure up the middle.
The byproduct of this is that the Steelers allowed Worilds to rush the passer on a more frequent basis.
While he had a season-high 32 pass rushes the week before, that came on 14 more plays. He rushed the passer 53 percent of the time against the Jaguars—30 of 57 snaps—which was the highest ratio of the season for him.
On passing plays, he was able to rush the passer over 75 percent of the time against Blake Bortles. He only rushed the passer half the time two weeks ago. But more importantly, he was able to rush the passer from a more comfortable position, from the left edge.
Worilds managed to find a lot of pass rushing success against the rookie quarterback, though the vast majority of that came during the first half. But then again, only 13 of Bortles’ 36 pass attempts came in the second half.
Worilds, of course, managed to register his second sack of the season in this game, but he also generated several other pressures during the game. I count at least three other occasions in which he registered a hit on the quarterback on plays other than the sack in a preliminary review, in addition to other pressures.
This was certainly his best game of the season as a pass rusher, even if it wasn’t one of the better games of his career in other aspects. I recall a few occasions in which the Jaguars took advantage of his wide angles for inside runs around right guard.
The big takeaway, however, is the fact that Worilds showed up in a significant way in terms of his pass rushing in the last game. Not only is that exactly what the front office paid for this offseason, that’s precisely what the Steelers need from him right now. It’s up to him to step up with Jarvis Jones out at least another six weeks.