After the Titans signed him from Denver to be part of their new 3-4 in 2014, he struggled and was a big part of why the Titans ranked 31st against the run, giving up 137.2 yards a game.
The Titans are still not a great run defense team, but they are giving up 27.1 fewer yards per game and are currently tied for 17th.
Woodyard started the season as the third inside linebacker, but after three games the Titans moved him into the starting lineup in place of Zach Brown.
Woodyard isn’t a big, thumping inside guy at 6-foott-3, 233 pounds. But his pairing with blossoming second-year man Avery Williamson has worked nicely.
“I can’t say enough about him and what he does for our team,” interim coach Mike Mularkey said. I know when he lost his role there early in the season he could have easily gone into a funk. Not once has he ever wavered. He’s a pro. I’m in every special teams meeting, he’s in every one of them whether he’s on them or not. And he’s productive on defense He’s a good guy for our young guys to follow and watch if they want to be successful.”
Pro Football Focus isn’t the end-all, be-all of ratings. But the service does examine and grade every play. Last year it rated Woodyard negatively against the run, in the pass rush and in coverage. This year he’s a positive in all three categories.
And his overall number shows a whopping turnaround, from negative-10.8 to 11.4.
“I’ve been making more plays this year,” Woodyard said. “You’ve just got to keep working hard every year. This year some things happened that I couldn’t control, I just had to go out there and wait until I got my turn and let it all go. …”
His transition to a new team last year was tougher than he imagined it would be. Like a lot of people on the Titans' defense, a second year in the system has allowed him to play better.
“I’m back to myself now,” he said.