Falcons: The curious case of Paul Worrilow
A simple glance at our inside linebacker rankings will suggest that Paul Worrilow is struggling. His -16.2 overall grade puts him at 57th out of 60 ILBs, and his -9.5 coverage grade is 58th. Despite this, Worrilow has been a virtual ever-present on the Falcons defense. He’s only missed three snaps all season, and only missed 18 altogether since assuming the starting role as a rookie in Week 7 last year.
Worrilow’s greatest difficulties have come in coverage where he’s Atlanta’s second-most targeted defender, allowing 50 completions on 57 targets. The high completion rate is no surprise – Worrilow will often cover backs and tight ends on short, high-percentage routes.
The problem is when those catches start turning into big plays, and Worrilow has given up a fair share, including four touchdowns, a load of first downs and an average of 7.06 YAC. Tackling Efficiency has played a factor where he’s missing one tackle for 5.6 attempts—a rate that ranks near the bottom among his peers.
Worrilow’s stats look much better against the run, yet aren’t translating into a positive for his run defense grade (-5.7). It’s a good example of how our grading often provides a more complete picture than stats alone.
Worrilow is making a stop on 10.7% of his run defense snaps, the eighth-best mark among ILBs. His tackling is also much surer – missing only one tackle for every 22.0 attempts, good for seventh-best.
The vast majority of Worrilow’s stops, however, have been the “unblocked” variety and aren’t grading as high in our system as would defeating a blocker to make the play. Also, when he does find himself taking on blockers, especially at the second level, our analysts have determined he’s losing that battle much more often than he wins.
Perhaps Worrilow is miscast as an every-down linebacker where his coverage skills can be exposed. Instead he would be better suited as a run stuffer, particularly if the defensive line can keep him free from blockers.