Thank You to BlueSquared for supplying a great nickname for #56.
So how 'bout this young man out of the University of Michigan; a former DE who didn't just make the transition to a 3-4 Rush Linebacker, but did it with flying colors. Woodley, who I was thrilled to have added back in the '07 Draft, has succeeded in becoming my favorite player. I was looking forward to this year, his first opportunity to start, and boy he didn't disappoint. Now we can't leave out the fact that some of his success is credited to the additional pressure James "Deebo" Harrison applied from the opposite side of the field, but it was no coincidence that Harrison's sack total doubled with Woodley's rise into the starting role. Together they combined for a monstrous 27.5 sacks in the regular season (Woodley with 11.5 and Harrison with 16), and 5 so far this post season (Woodley with 4, Harrison with 1). Of course all us die hard fans know this, but there's something that caught I think some of us off guard. Woodley started out the year phenomenally well, wreaking havoc in opposing backfields, racking up his 11.5 sacks in 11 games played, including 3, 2 sack games (Jacksonville, Cincinnati, and Washington). But then, for the final four games of the season, Woodley seemed to hit that rookie/first-year-starter wall. I found myself frustrated and saying to myself that I should've seen this coming and wondering if had given all that was left in the tank. I was wrong, and never in my life have I been so glad I was wrong.
After emerging from a first round bye, Woodley has been back to his regular self, recording 2 sacks in both of the last two games, and 12 tackles for the last two weeks combined. This brings his playoff career total up to 15 total tackles, 6 of them sacks. I think it's fair to say that, thus far, LaMarr has been one of the better clutch players when it comes to playoff ball. Now my question to you is posted in the poll attached to this post: "At 24, he's got a long ways to go, but can LaMarr Woodley be the next in the long heritage of what is the Steelers linebacker greats?"
Personally, I like option one, but I would like to see similar if not better results than this year's, next season (and of course for the rest of his Steeler career (:) to make a more accurate assessment, but as of right now I think he's got nowhere to go but up.
With that I'll close with one little parody-you'll have to have seen the original Star Wars movie to understand what I'm making fun of here or it won't really make any sense.
Just picture LaMarr Woodley as Chewbacca, Han Solo as Mike Tomlin, C-3PO as a Cardinal's offensive lineman, and R2-D2 as Kurt Warner.
It's the first quarter of Superbowl XLIII, LaMarr Woodley has just been blocked and the Cardinals have picked up a first down:
Lineman: I made a nice block, screaming about it won't help you (it was holding).
Tomlin: It's not wise to hold LaMarr.
Lineman: But coach, no one worries about bullying a lineman.
Tomlin: That's because, linemen don't tear your quarterback in half when they get a sack.
Lineman: (Gulps) Kurt, new game plan, throw the ball to the players in black and gold.