To put it mildly, critiquing Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert’s decision making is in vogue now within Steelers Nation. And, truth be told, some of the personnel decisions the two men have made are open to question (Who exactly decided to trade up to get Alameda Ta’Amu, for example?)
- But when it comes to LaMarr Woodely, Colbert and Tomlin called this one spot on.
NFL Draft Diamonds couldn’t have chosen a more apt photo. A year ago the Steelers suffered their latest meltdown at Oakland’s Black Hole, and as you can see, Woodley was rushing Terrell Pryor. Which is what the Steelers had in mind when they resigned him to 6 year 61.5 million dollar contract in 2011.
- As Tony Defeo of Behind the Steel Curtain has pointed out, at the time it looked like an incredibly wise decision.
Woodley, put simply, was a sack machine. At that point in his career, Woodley’s sacks-per-game pace far outstripped Steelers legends such as Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Greg Lloyd, Joey Porter, or James Harrison. And it continued that way for a while. Woodley opened up 2011 on a tear, with 9 sacks in the first 8 games, including two drops of Tom Brady in the Steelers upset of the Patriots.
- But that’s when Woodley suffered his first soft tissue injury.
It’s been downhill ever since. 2012? Ruined by injury. 2013? Ruined by injury. By the 2014 off season, Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin had seen enough and made the collective decision to bite the bullet. The Steelers cut LaMarr Woodley, but it’s a move that’s costing them $5.6 million against their 2014 salary cap and 8.6 million in 2015.
- But it was clearly the correct move.
Woodley was a total bust in Oakland, massing all of 5 tackles in six games. Yes, he’d moved from outside linebacker to defensive end, but these are numbers that do not lie.
Time to Take Our Own Medicine
Regular readers are familiar with Steel Curtain Rising’s Watch Tower, which analyzes the job done by those who cover the Steelers. The chief focus on the Watch Tower is to seek to understand what makes the press tick – what gets covered (or not covered) by who and why. But, truth be told, the Watch Tower does like to play a little bit of “gottacha” now and then, pointing out when journalists get things wrong.
- Well, Steel Curtain Rising got this one wrong, and in a big way.
In our 2014 Steelers Free Agent Focus run up, Steel Curtain Rising reviewed the pro’s and con’s of keeper or cutting Woodley. And while we correctly read the tea leaves which indicated the Steelers were going to cut him, our final conclusion was:
The Curtain’s call is that the Steelers stick with Woodley for one more year, but the Steelers themselves seem inclined to take the cap hit move on.
It’s time for the Watch Tower to take its own medicine — there’s a reason why Colbert and Tomlin get paid to do what they do and this is just a non-commercial fan site. They were right on Woodley, I was wrong.