Steelers Vs. Eagles: LaMarr Woodley Traditionally Breaks Out In Week 5

Jared Wickerham - Getty Images

Is it something about Week 5 that flicks the switch in Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley? Or is it his fifth game? It's a question Woodley will have to answer as his team will look to him to spark a sagging pass rush Sunday against Philadelphia.

It wouldn't be easy for the Steelers to make a run for the playoffs at 1-3, making Sunday's Week 5 game against Philadelphia pretty close to a must-win scenario. They haven't lost two games in a row since a five-game losing streak in 2009 - their last season missing the playoffs.

That streak was caused by myriad factors, with a lack of pressure created being among the suspects.

Staring at a possible miniature version of that streak, the lack of pass rush is a concerning trend for the Steelers' defense.

At the center of that is outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

The good news is Woodley is used to busting out of early season sack slumps in a big way right around the Steelers' fifth game each season. Since 2010, LaMarr Woodley has five sacks in Week 5 games - never failing to notch less than 1.5 - sometimes with impressive performances in Weeks 1-4, sometimes not so much.

The bad news is Week 5 has usually been Woodley's fifth game of the season. In 2012, it's his fourth. In that same stretch of time, Woodley has zero sacks in his fourth game of the year.

So which will it be? Week 5, or his fourth game?

The possible return of James Harrison could provide something of a boost, but he was without James Harrison in Week 5 last season - a 38-17 dismantling of Tennessee that saw Woodley get Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck on the ground 1.5 times.

While Woodley leads the Steelers with two sacks so far this season, pressure has seldom been exerted on opposing offenses, and the typical disruption this team is used to creating on the defensive side of the ball just isn't there. Some of this can be attributed to passing offenses utilizing quick passing and no-huddle offenses to wear down what's typically an aggressive pass rush, but whatever it is, it's something the Steelers will need to address against a multi-faceted Eagles offense Sunday in Pittsburgh.


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