Pittsburgh Steelers: Expect a Breakout Season for Lawrence Timmons

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer IFebruary 19, 2012

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 02:  Running back Ben Tate #44 of the Houston Texans is tackled by William Gay #22 and Lawrence Timmons #94 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Reliant Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

When Mike Tomlin was hired to coach the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was taking over a team that had just lost its head coach. They were coming off an 8-8 season, one that saw the first year of post-Jerome Bettis.

Not only that, team leader Joey Porter had been released, a questionable decision many Steelers fans thought. Alan Faneca was not happy with Tomlin and wanted out of Pittsburgh, because Tomlin had been selected over fan-favorites Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm.

So, as great as a situation he may have been in, coming to an organization such as the Steelers, he had his work cut out for him.

With the loss of Joey Porter, Tomlin needed someone who could take his place—someone who would come in and continue the tradition of Steelers linebackers.

Tomlin's first selection? Lawrence Timmons.

Of course, his second selection was LaMarr Woodley, who most people would say has outplayed Timmons so far to this point in their careers.  The numbers don't lie.

 

Tackles

Timmons: 384

Woodley: 225

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: James Starks #44 of the Green Bay Packers is tackled by Lawrence Timmons #94 and LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Kevin
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

 

 

 

Sacks

Timmons: 17

Woodley: 48

 

Forced Fumbles

Timmons: 9

Woodley: 7

 

Passes Defensed

Timmons: 21

Woodley: 14

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 24: Linebackers Lawrence Timmons #94 and James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers sack quarterback Kellen Clemens #10 of the St. Louis Rams in the fourth quarter of their game at Heinz Field on December 24, 2011 in Pittsburg
Karl Walter/Getty Images

 

This shows, obviously, that Woodley is a better pass rusher, but does it?

 

See, Timmons has been playing next to James Farrior. Mike Tomlin, Dick LeBeau, Dan Rooney and every other person in the organization have learned that Farrior is a liability in pass coverage.

 

Translation: Almost every time the Steelers blitzed, it was Farrior. How does a player get sacks, if he hardly ever blitzes? Add to that, you have Woodley and Harrison blitzing as well? 

The Steelers' loyalty to James Farrior has actually hurt the progress of Lawrence Timmons. With Farrior as a liability against the pass, it has forced the Steelers to use him on blitzes, while forcing Timmons to drop into coverage.

We have yet to see the full potential of Timmons as a pass rusher because Farrior has prevented that.

With the Steelers' cap trouble (Timmons has already restructured his contract) and James Farrior scheduled to earn just under $4 million dollars, the Steelers may be releasing Farrior this offseason.

If they do, there are big shoes to fill as the captain of the defense. Fortunately for the Steelers, Timmons is ready to take over that role.

Timmons can more than make up for the production that will be lost without Farrior. The real question is, what kind of production will the Steelers get out of Farrior's replacement?

If the Steelers believe in Stevenson Sylvester, they can give him the reins, and if not, they can keep Larry Foote. Though Foote is not as good in pass coverage, he is far better than Farrior was.

Either way, the Steelers have stifled Timmons too much already. It is time to put the "C" on his chest and allow him to lead this defense.