View Full Version : Timmons flourishes in Polamalu's old role

11-19-2010, 06:19 AM
Timmons flourishes in Polamalu's old role
By John Harris
Friday, November 19, 2010

Lawrence Timmons and Troy Polamalu have traded positions. Sort of.

The revelation during Sunday night's nationally televised Steelers-Patriots game that inside linebacker Timmons has replaced Pro Bowl safety Polamalu as the designated playmaker in defensive sub-packages may have been news to the rest of the country. For Polamalu, it was business as usual.

"I haven't played that position for a few years. It changed the year we won our second Super Bowl. That entire year we played the same defense we play now,'' Polamalu said.

Up until 2008, Polamalu was free to roam and call his own number on passing downs. He could blitz or drop back in coverage depending on how he read the situation.

Polamalu still has the freedom to call his number as the starting strong safety. The only thing that changed is he no longer plays that way in obvious situations.

Timmons, the Steelers' first-round draft pick in 2007, received his first extensive playing time in 2008. He played in all 16 regular-season games, including two starts, and was credited with 71 tackles, five sacks and a forced fumble. He recorded his first NFL interception at New England and returned it 89 yards, the third-longest interception return in team history. He added 11 tackles in the postseason, including four tackles in the Steelers' win over Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII.

Timmons became a full-time starter last season, which prevents him from assuming Polamalu's playmaking role on every snap. His 85 tackles this year lead the team and tie him for fourth in the NFL. He also has two interceptions (tying him with Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor for the team lead), one fumble recovery, a forced fumble and nine passes defended (leading all Steelers linebackers).

"We always believe that the best defense is to play your best 11 players," defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. "It doesn't make any sense to me to sit Lawrence Timmons when it's third down, and not when Troy's as great a safety as he is.

"It takes our linebackers a little while to get comfortable with the whole package. Lawrence showed us he had playmaking ability, and that's where we started him. Now he does both."

Timmons had six tackles in Sunday's loss to the Patriots. In the second quarter, he made a play that showed why the Steelers made the switch when he dropped into coverage on third-and-15 and batted away a pass intended for tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Like Polamalu, Timmons has learned how to wait until the last second before making his move.

"When quarterbacks see me coming, they're going to go away from me," Timmons said. "I know how to disguise what I'm going to do. Troy helps me out a whole lot. I make plays because I know what to look for. When they throw the ball, nine times out of 10 I can make a play."

Playing in the base defense, LeBeau said Polamalu still makes his share of plays.

"Maybe not as many 'splash' plays, and people don't recognize that," LeBeau said. "If you look at our video how many plays he's making, you see he's playing great football."

Although Polamalu and Timmons play similar roles, they present different playing styles.

"L.T.'s got the position, but the role is different," said Polamalu, who has 46 tackles this season. "It's like two actors playing the same role, but their influence would be different. With LT playing that role, we're able to run different blitz packages and less coverage, in a sense. With me in the role, it was more coverage, less blitzing."

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

11-19-2010, 06:25 AM

is it me or is the Tribune watching totally different football games then the rest of us. No disrespect to Timmons, but is far from disruptive as Polamalu was in that role.

11-19-2010, 10:41 AM
timmons is a stud at the inside linebacker position he can do everything and to me is one of the best linebackers in the l;eague this year he is always around the ball BUT hes no polamalu!

11-19-2010, 11:21 PM
He's not Polamalu, well not yet, it's good that he's practicing, but he shouldn't do it against an explosive offense.

12-08-2010, 07:28 AM
With all due respect to Timmons... had to bump this article

Looked to me like Troy might be back to his old role? Please tell me this experiment is over?

12-08-2010, 12:19 PM
With all due respect to Timmons... had to bump this article

Looked to me like Troy might be back to his old role? Please tell me this experiment is over?

No, Troy just has gotten more blitzes called, he hasn't gotten the role back. He seems to have gotten more outside blitzes and run blitzes. But if he's on a run blitz and he believes it will be a pass, he'll do go into coverage where he see's fit. He still has a valuable role in the defense, its just a tad more limited.

Reason I believe Timmons got this role is because he's stronger and able to pass rush better than Troy. I'm sure everyone has seen troy blitz and then disapear in trenches and become useless.
Timmons hasn't totally taken the role from Troy, this role is completely different, but it allows him to roam the field like Troy used to do. His territory is more limited than Troy's as he stays within the box but sometimes does cover 10+ yards down the field.

12-08-2010, 01:58 PM
I say send them both and see who can stop them then! :thumbsup:

12-09-2010, 12:06 PM
Timmons started off on fire but had cooled down some.