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-   -   Why Was Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons Ignored in 2012? (http://forums.steelersfever.com/showthread.php?t=96412)

SteelersCanada 02-06-2013 11:25 AM

Why Was Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons Ignored in 2012?
 
Why Was Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons Ignored in 2012?

By
Pete Martin


How is it possible that the player Pro Football Focus ranked the fourth-best inside linebacker in 2012 didn’t make the Pro Bowl?

How does it happen that the linebacker who increased his team’s win probability the most last year according to Advanced NFL Stats didn’t make a single second-team All-NFL squad?

How did the world not notice an inside linebacker who had two critical, game-changing interceptions—Kansas City Chiefs 13 at Pittsburgh Steelers 16, one that set his team up for an overtime win and the Pittsburgh Steelers 14 at Cleveland Browns 20, the other a return for a touchdown that kept his club in a game in which it committed eight turnovers?

Why didn’t more people recognize what a great year Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons had in 2012?

The six-year veteran arguably had the finest all-around season of any inside linebacker last year. Timmons joined Seattle’s Bobby Wagner as the only two linebackers to receive positive grades from Pro Football Focus’s analysts in each of the three main areas in which that position is evaluated: stopping the run, defending against the pass and rushing the quarterback. As well as Patrick Willis, NaVarro Bowman and Luke Kuechly played, none of those stalwarts could boast such a comprehensively high level of play in 2012.

Timmons was particularly strong as a pass rusher, finishing the season as the fifth most productive inside linebacker at generating pressure and netting the second most sacks of anyone at his position. Though slightly weaker against the run, Timmons’s efficiency at making tackles helped the Steelers linebacking corps rank fourth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed between five and 10 yards past the line of scrimmage.

More importantly, as was demonstrated by the interceptions that won the Chiefs game and nearly won the first Browns game, Timmons was one of the few impact players on a somewhat disappointing Steelers defense.

So with all this in mind, why did everyone overlook Timmons while heaping praise on Willis, Bowman, Kuechly, Kansas City’s Derrick Johnson and, sigh, Ray Lewis? There are several reasons.

For starters, not everyone expected him to have such a good year. Timmons came into the 2012 campaign on the heels of a disappointing 2011 season that may have made many observers forget how good he was in 2009 and 2010. According to Advanced NFL Stats’ analysis, the Steeler ranked a dismal 69th among all linebackers in win probability added over the course of the 2011 campaign. That one down year may have overshadowed his stellar play in the previous two seasons, which saw him finish first and 14th in the same category.

His struggles in 2011 were largely the result of having to play out of position while teammate James Harrison recovered from a facial injury. During the four games in which he was forced to play outside linebacker, Timmons generated only three quarterback pressures, a terrible figure for a player who excels at rushing the passer.

He was also held without a tackle in a game for the first time in his career.

Whatever the reason for the drop-off in his performance, a subpar 2011 may have led many to dismiss Timmons as a once-promising talent who had failed to live up to his early potential. As a result, they may have not been looking for a big 2012 from the Steelers linebacker and weren’t paying attention when he turned one in.

Reputation counts for a lot in how NFL players are viewed. Fans and league talent evaluators tend to give stars with a long track record of success a break when they have bad seasons later in their careers. Likewise, they will sometimes turn on less experienced players when they have an off year, believing that any previous good years were the aberration.

Unfortunately, a good reputation is not something that can be built overnight. Timmons will have to put up more stellar seasons before he is cut the same slack as established stars like Lewis.

The second reason why Timmons’s excellent season went largely unnoticed was the relatively poor play of his team’s defense. After several years of dominant play, the normally stout Pittsburgh defensive unit struggled to stop opponents in 2012.

And in football, poor play from a group tends to taint how its individual members are viewed. Because it is difficult to isolate a particular player’s performance from those of the rest of his teammates, excellent individual play can get lost if the unit fails to produce overall. There is a reason why the Texans’ offensive line and the 49ers' linebacking corps had two Pro Bowlers each.

Pittsburgh’s defense wasn’t terrible last year, but it did slip in comparison to years past. Thanks to injuries and age, the Steelers went from allowing the fewest points in 2010 and 2011 to allowing the sixth fewest last year.

In Football Outsiders’ rankings, Pittsburgh had the 13th best defense in 2012, after ranking seventh and first in the two previous years. Not horrible, but bad enough that it wasn't a complete shock that the unit didn’t get a single Pro Bowl nod.

There are obvious exceptions to the tendency to penalize good players on bad teams—for example, a Chiefs team that gave up the eighth most points and the 13th most yards in 2012 somehow sent four defenders to the Pro Bowl—but a lot of players get too much or too little credit for their performance depending on how their team plays. And that was very likely what caused many to overlook Timmons this past year.

The broader context in which Timmons played also worked against the Steelers linebacker in another, less intuitive way. Playing alongside well-known stars like Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, LaMarr Woodley and Harrison, who have 12 Pro Bowls, six All-NFL selections and a Defensive Player of the Year Award among them, may have hurt Timmons’s chances of getting noticed in 2012. For those inclined to downplay Timmons’s contributions to the team’s defense, it might be tempting to argue that his success in 2012 was largely due to the quality of those surrounding him. Star players regularly make life easier for their less-talented colleagues.

Except that that wasn’t the case last year. All of the players mentioned above had a down year. Hampton ranked 78th among defensive tackles in 2012 after having placed 32nd the year before. Keisel slipped from being Pro Football Focus’s fourth-ranked 3-4 defensive end in 2011 to being 21st and just below average this past year. As a result, Pittsburgh’s defensive line struggled to stop the run and generate pressure on the quarterback, ranking 22nd in stopping opposing offenses on 3rd or 4th-and-short and coming in 11th in adjusted sack rate.

Similarly, Woodley went from ranking 10th among 3-4 outside linebackers in 2011 to 13th in 2012, and Harrison fell from sixth to 10th on the same lists.

The argument that Timmons benefited from playing with elite defenders in 2012 doesn’t hold water, but playing alongside such high-profile teammates certainly obscured the season that the linebacker had. Hampton, Keisel, Woodley and Harrison are, quite simply, bigger names than Timmons and have a longer record of success. As was mentioned above, all those individual accolades carry weight and attract attention from fans and insiders alike. As a result, more ink was spilled about Hampton’s struggles and Harrison’s injuries than Timmons’s strong play.

And that ties in with the final reason why very few took note of what Lawrence Timmons did in 2012. The Steelers linebacker is not an outsized personality who forces the world to acknowledge him.

Unlike Lewis, the Steelers inside linebacker is Lawrence Timmons and the Two-Step Drop, quiet and soft-spoken off the field. Aside from a $21,000 fine incurred for a hit on Mark Sanchez in Week 2, Timmons also has largely avoided the controversies that have dogged his teammate Harrison throughout much of the latter’s career.

Fortunately or unfortunately, in the modern era of the NFL, getting noticed off the field makes people pay attention to what a player does on the field. Those who court publicity, whether good or bad, make announcers mention their names and fans watch them play. And that can change the public’s perception of how they measure up against their peers, especially when those players play less visible positions. And because Timmons doesn’t talk trash like Bart Scott or have a flashy sack dance like many other linebackers, it will take longer for his good play to get noticed.

On the plus side, however, if the Steelers linebacker continues to play at this level, the world will take notice. NFL fans and front office types can be slow to come around, but they’re not stupid. Put up enough high-quality years, and people will take notice. The challenge for Timmons going forward is to show that 2010 and 2012 were no flukes.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1...gnored-in-2012

-- A very, very good article on Timmons. Imagine if we got someone that could complement Timmons' skillset and allowed him to blow shit up at the offensive line and be the beast pass-rusher he is.

Steelers5895 02-06-2013 11:29 AM

Re: Why Was Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons Ignored in 2012?
 
past performance was sub par so no one really watched him other than steelers fans.

harrison'samonster 02-06-2013 11:42 AM

Re: Why Was Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons Ignored in 2012?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Steelers5895 (Post 1083735)
past performance was sub par so no one really watched him other than steelers fans.

I'd have to agree. He keeps it up though and people will notice what he does for this team

OX1947 02-06-2013 11:47 AM

Re: Why Was Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons Ignored in 2012?
 
because he doesnt come out on to the field dancing like an idiot, he doesnt do interviews where he is telling everyone how great he is. He isnt getting into fights at clubs or getting DUI's. That's how you become famous now. For acting like a complete ahole AND playing well.

SteelersCanada 02-06-2013 11:52 AM

Re: Why Was Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons Ignored in 2012?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by OX1947 (Post 1083742)
because he doesnt come out on to the field dancing like an idiot, he doesnt do interviews where he is telling everyone how great he is. He isnt getting into fights at clubs or getting DUI's. That's how you become famous now. For acting like a complete ahole AND playing well.

As sad as this statement is, it's very true. He just does his job - albeit very, very well - and leads by example instead of his words.

I know I'm going to get a ton of heat and flack for saying this, but Timmons was our MVP last year, not Miller. It's honestly a toss-up and both of them deserved it, but I think there were games that Timmons was the only one on the field (on defense, anyway) that gave a shit and gave 100% every play. Remember the Eagles game? That was, arguably, Timmons' best NFL game.

We need an ILB that complements his skillset and once we get it, he has the potential to be Patrick Willis-like. Alec Ogletree or Arthur Brown fit this mold and you have to think that Timmons, Dick and Colbert know these guys would ultimately bring the best out in LT.

Vis 02-06-2013 11:57 AM

Re: Why Was Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons Ignored in 2012?
 
Past performance was not sub-par. he's always been solid, now exceptional. But like the posts above and the history of some here even calling him a bust, he suffers from fans' distorted views.

pete74 02-06-2013 12:11 PM

Re: Why Was Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons Ignored in 2012?
 
He will make the pro bowl next year. That's how it usually works with younger or first time players. They go the year after they have a break out year

Vis 02-06-2013 12:18 PM

Re: Why Was Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons Ignored in 2012?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by pete74 (Post 1083751)
He will make the pro bowl next year. That's how it usually works with younger or first time players. They go the year after they have a break out year


But this wasn't his breakout year. His stats in 2010 were better.

Blacksburg Zach 02-06-2013 12:33 PM

Re: Why Was Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons Ignored in 2012?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Vis (Post 1083752)
But this wasn't his breakout year. His stats in 2010 were better.

His stats may have been better in 2010, but Timmons will have a much better chance at the pro bowl now that Ray-Ray won't be unjustifiably getting name-recognition votes from the fans.

Riddle_Of_Steel 02-06-2013 12:38 PM

Re: Why Was Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons Ignored in 2012?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by OX1947 (Post 1083742)
because he doesnt come out on to the field dancing like an idiot, he doesnt do interviews where he is telling everyone how great he is. He isnt getting into fights at clubs or getting DUI's. That's how you become famous now. For acting like a complete ahole AND playing well.

^^^^ This.

I suspect for some of the same reasons why Aaron Smith was one of the best 3-4 ends EVER, but you rarely ever hear his name being mentioned. The quiet professionals rarely get their due, because everyone is busy paying attention to the retards that like to make s sideshow out of themselves.


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