In a year of unprecedented (and mostly undesirable) attention from the media, one of the biggest stories on the Pittsburgh Steelers is being criminally ignored: Lawrence Timmons has become one of the best linebackers in the NFL. Even though many of Timmons' contributions have been obvious to Steeler fans, praise for his play has been remarkably scant.
There is literally nothing exciting about Timmons besides his game-changing play. Famously quiet and not exactly long on charisma, Timmons is not a character with whom many outside of Steeler nation are familiar. In fact, it's difficult to find much written about him at all. Steelers fans hungry for Youtube clips of Timmons' phenomenal play are just as likely unearth this clip of his son gettin' down.
While sitting through an interview with the 24-year-old linebacker is sometimes painful, so are the hits he dishes out to opposing offenses. Timmons has been utterly dominant this year, and there are at least 192 reasons to think so. 192, as in the number of tackles he is on pace for in 2010. To put that number into perspective, that's nearly 40 tackles more than James Farrior's career high. Anyone watching the Steelers' first four games was sure to spot Timmons all over the field, making play after play despite difficult assignments like tailing Titans running back Chris Johnson.
But many of Timmons' greatest accomplishments don't show up on the stat sheet. He has the range to line up on one side of the field pre-snap, then fly over to the other in zone coverage - or terrorize the quarterback up the middle. That kind of versatility makes an already perplexing defense even more difficult for the opposition to read at the line. This kind of mayhem has always been the bread and butter of Dick LeBeau's zone blitz scheme.
Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. goes so far as to compare Timmons to a more thoroughly appreciated Steeler:
He's still very young and maturing physically. But now he's becoming LeBeau's second-level Troy Polamalu. LeBeau can do anything with him.
Until he gets the credit he deserves, Timmons will continue to dominate quietly. But don't worry, Steelers faithful, Timmons is only 24; the rest of the country will have the better part of a decade to notice.