Lawrence Timmons, Expectations, & \”12-14 Sacks\”

By Jeremy Hritz

Last year provided Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons with not only a new six year, 50 million dollar contract, but an opportunity to expand his understanding of the Dick LeBeau 3-4 defense when he stepped in for four games at outside linebacker for James Harrison, who suffered a fractured orbital bone in the week four game against the Houston Texans.

At inside linebacker, Timmons has been dependable over the years against the run, and he has proven to be capable of disrupting plays before they develop in the backfield at times in addition. While Timmons did not have an awful year in 2011, his play was not as explosive and dominating as it had been in previous years, and whether or not that can be attributed to a switch of position in several games, or a less effective defensive line, is open for debate. Prior to the start of last season, many media pundits predicted that Timmons would have his best season, yet that belief never came to fruition.

Timmons, now in his sixth year, will enter the 2012 season looking to live up to his potential. Coach LeBeau has said about Timmons, “The sky is the limit for him.” If ever there was a time for him to touch the sky, it will be this year. Timmons was a role player on the Steelers defense in 2007 and 2008, before assuming a starting role in 2009. He has since started for three full seasons at inside linebacker. While James Farrior’s age diminished his skills last season, his leadership will be missed in 2012. Larry Foote has been anointed as the defensive leader in the middle this off-season, but Timmons, though often described as reserved, will be just as important is filling that void.

Timmons was the first player drafted during the Mike Tomlin regime at pick number 15 in 2007, and the buzz that he generated was great. In his senior year at Florida State, Timmons recorded 79 tackles, 18 for loss, five sacks, and six pass deflections, yet he was still considered a raw prospect that would need time to develop. There were also concerns about his height, measuring in generously at 6’1; however, Kevin Colbert stated that Timmons played “tall” during his collegiate career.

Since Timmons began his career with the Steelers, he has consistently made plays, and occasionally ones that truly show how gifted he really is. However, it seems that every preseason, there is an undercurrent in the media that Timmons is poised for a dominating, breakout year, as if his performance has not equaled the expectations that followed him out of Florida State. It can be argued that Timmons best season occurred in 2010 when the Steelers won the AFC Championship and finished the season as the first ranked overall rushing defense, allowing only 62.8 yards per game, something that he contributed to with his 135 tackles. Regardless, it still seems that the expectation of play for Timmons is much greater.

Coming off of a good but not great season in 2011 in which he never seemed to achieve any consistency, Timmons is looking forward to a more productive season. On May 29th on his Twitter account, the former Seminole said that he is “Aiming for 12-14 sacks this year!” 12-14 sacks would definitely make for not only a career year for Timmons, but also an outstanding one for the Steelers defense as well.

  • SteelSpine

    Your article is so right on.

    When Timmons makes a play he gets raved by TV anouncers, but I think that’s just because Steelers reputation always been great production from linebackers. But Timmon’s instincts havnt lived up to a 1st round pick, let-alone pick #15 in a 1st round; Steelers coulda gotten his level of instincts & production outtof a much-later round pick. So I was surpised they signed him for 6 yrs 50 mil, but maybe that said our depth is shakier to the Steelers staff than what I thought.

  • Jprankster2005

    Yeah don’t think he will even get 10

  • Not sure what broadcast you are watching but I rarely hear TV announcers even mention Timmons. I think Timmy is a very good player….with this perceived potential of being a great player. As Pola is diminishing as the years pile up, I thought that this guy would be the next big playmaker. Haven’t seen it. No disrespect to Timmons. He’s doing his job so I’m not sure if its him or they are not giving him enough opportunities to make plays. Here’s hoping for a healthy season especially for the defense.

  • Norbert

    In 2010 he played at 248 lbs (drafted at 234), and I think it was the perfect weight for him. But during the lockout he muscled up again and it slowed him down and he played “tall” again but this time it is not a compliment. Fortunately he will be monitored by coaches this offseason and will be as fast as during the 2010 season.
    This is not his 10+ sack promise, but he is not a pass rusher. I will be very satisfied with a 5-6 sack season from him.

  • Ahmad

    As long as Timmons stays at ILB full time instead of having to kick outside, I fully believe he can reach 12-14 sacks.

  • Steelers75

    i think that farriors age and speed made him a liability in pass situations and since he had to blitz timmons had to fall back in coverage

    hopefully spence or foote can cover tight ends and give timmons the chance to blitz and have more opportunities

  • steelerfan

    Timmons said he felt he’d have double diget sack numbers last year. Hopefully, this year, he reaches his goal.

  • Gene

    your crazy he earn every bit of that 50 in 2010 he a inside lb not olb but he still held his own on the outside

  • Gene

    as long as he can stick with the tightends n rbs he dont need 1 sack he is the fastest closeing lb in the game

  • Pete

    It’s nice for him to “aim” for 12-14 sacks but that is never going to happen. Woodley and Harrison have those kind of sack numbers in mind. Timmons plays inside where he may see a few opportunities but he won’t even get close to that. LeBeau has it right. Timmons is not an OLB in the 3-4 scheme played by the Steelers but he contributed well last season when he ha to go outside. He cannot replace Harrison and Woodley because he doesn’t have their skill set. His role is not to rack up sacks. He’s doing a great job. He doesn’t have to worry about sacks.

  • Tim

    That’s basically impossible, given the amount of time he blitzes. He would have to blitz like over half of all passing plays, every game. Those are high numbers for guys who rush every single pass play of the year. It will never ever happen because he won’t get the opportunities. He has plenty of blitzing talent, but come on. I think that if he is given more chances than in the past (he has to spend most of his time in coverage, which is not a bad idea), he could rack up 6-8, but that’s it.

    What is the single-season sack record for 3-4 ILBs?

  • Shannon Stephenson

    agreed…if he gets 5-6 Id be happy

  • Jprankster2005

    He is really not that good….. And don’t think he is worth 50 million…… I would say 35 to 40 would be most….. But it’s done….. But there’s no way he finishes out the next 5 and get’s all of that 50…

  • SteelSpine

    Haheheh, good catch. I too hope he reaches is this year tho.