Six Reasons Why Pittsburgh's James Farrior Is Most Underrated Linebacker in NFL

Ben Heck@@benheckONContributor IIIFebruary 19, 2011

Six Reasons Why Pittsburgh's James Farrior Is Most Underrated Linebacker in NFL

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  James Farrior #51 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    In Pittsburgh, football games are won on the defensive side of the ball.

    The team thrives on putting pressure on the quarterback and causing havoc, leading to turnovers. Those turnovers are then translated into points on the scoreboard.

    Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's strength on defense has always been the depth-oriented linebacking corps. Pittsburgh has a plethora of young talent on today's roster, including the 26-year old Lamarr Woodley who was just franchise-tagged by the organization.

    James Harrison, 32, Lawrence Timmons, 24 and Woodley all seem to receive the credit they deserve for a job well done.

    One player in Pittsburgh's defensive backfield thet has received recognition for his prolonged career, James Farrior, only seems to be a fan favorite in Steel City. Outside of Pittsburgh, though? No. The inside linebacker doesn't get the credit he deserves, and I'm here to give it to him.

1. Consistency and Reliability

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    PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 29:  Linebacker James Farrior #51 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates his touchdown after making a interception in the second quarter during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field on August 29, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylv
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Farrior hasn't missed a game in five seasons, meaning 80 consecutive regular season starts, and 11 postseason starts over that span.

    Having a constant in the lineup over such a long time gives the Steelers' defense a huge advantage, and they have become really reliable on Farrior being in the lineup and wreaking havoc in the defensive backfield.

    Since joining the organization in 2002, Farrior has missed just seven games total (four regular season, three postseason), and has had an impact on a majority of the games he's played in. Staying healthy has always been a huge plus with Farrior.

2. Experience

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  James Farrior #51 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on before taking on the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    It's obvious that over his 14 professional seasons (four with New York Jets, nine with Steelers), Farrior has gained some precious experience and knowledge.

    He is the oldest and most experienced member of the Steelers' linebacking corps and has two Super Bowl rings in three appearances.

3. Longevity

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    PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 23:  James Farrior #51 of the Pittsburgh Steelers pumps up the crowd during the game against the Carolina Panthers on December 23, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    At the age of 35 this past season, Farrior continued to put up respectable numbers from the inside linebacking position.

    His 80 solo tackles were 12 more than his 2009 total and his six sacks was just a half of a sack shy of tying his career-high.

4. Leader By Example

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    TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 27:  Linebacker James Farrior #51 of the Pittsburgh Steelers talks with the media during the AFC Media Day at Raymond James Stadium on January 27, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Have you ever heard anything bad about Farrior? Any complaints from his fellow teammates? I know I haven't.

    Now obviously I haven't been in the locker room to see his impact for myself, but without any negative comments from his teammates and coaches, and limited trash talk coming out of Farrior's mouth, I think it's safe to say Farrior is well-respected by all, and his attitude is reflected by the rest of the team.

5. Perfect Fit With Team

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  Owner Dan Rooney (L) and Team president Art Rooney II (2ndL) of the Pittsburgh Steelers recieve the Lamar Hunt Trophy as CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz looks on after their 24 to 19 win over the New York Jets in the 2011 AFC Cham
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The Rooney family prides themselves with recruiting and bringing hard-working and respectable players in to the organization. Discipline is a must for not only the Rooney's, but head coach Mike Tomlin as well.

    Farrior has been a workhorse since first putting on the black and gold uniform for the first time in 2002.

    With just two Pro Bowl appearances to his name, I'm starting to think it's because he isn't a well-known superstar like the Brian Urlacher's and Demarcus Ware's of the league.

6. Career Stats

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    DETROIT - FEBRUARY 05:  James Farrior #51 of the Pittsburgh Steelers gestures on the field during the final minute of Super Bowl XL against the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field on February 5, 2006 in Detroit, Michigan.The Steelers defeated the Seahawks 21-1
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Farrior was never much of a pass-rusher, but more of a coverage backer who assisted at stopping the run as well. His 33.5 sacks in 183 starts is three more than former New England Patriot Tedy Bruschi finished his career with and just five shy of Ray Lewis' 38.5 sacks.

    He was never really feared by his opponents like Lewis, but his 938 career solo tackles give him an average of 67 per season. He picked off 11 passes, which included four in his lone All-Pro season (2004), the same season he was runner-up for AP Defensive Player of the Year behind Baltimore's Ed Reed.

In Conclusion

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    CINCINNATTI - NOVEMBER 21:  James Farrior #51 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates a saftey against the Cincinnati Bengals on November 21, 2004 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Pittsburgh seems to take the two-time Super Bowl champion for granted. In his nine seasons with the team, he has quietly been the defenses cornerstone and the one piece holding it all together. The captain on the defensive side of the ball should go down as one of the decade's top 10 inside linebackers, at the very least.

    He's not the type of guy to demand more money, yet he goes out and puts up very respectable numbers year in and year out. I tip my hat to you, Mr. Farrior, for a tremendous career.