The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended a few weeks earlier that they had planned it to, but now that their 2015 campaign has drawn to a conclusion, it’s time to wrap things up and take stock of where they are and how they got there. Part of that process involves holding player exit meetings at the conclusion of each season.
Of course, we’re not privy to the specifics that go on in each of these meetings between head coach and player, and whomever else might be involved in any particular discussion, but if we were conducting them, it might go something like this.
Player: Lawrence Timmons
Position: Inside Linebacker
Experience: 9 Years
Lawrence Timmons entered the 2015 season coming off of the first Pro Bowl nod of his career, even if one could more than fairly argue that he had a few worthy seasons in years prior. He was one of only a couple of defensive fixtures for the Steelers entering this season, even if his work in pass coverage had grown spotty.
So when the 29-year old had gotten out of the gates slow to start the 2015 season, there were many outside observers who were growing concerned. After all, in spite of his relatively young age, he has already put extensive wear and tear on his body, having now played every game in six straight seasons while hardly coming off the field and closing in on 900 career tackles.
It is important to remember, however, that Timmons suffered a toe injury during training camp and only participated in the first preseason game. That toe injury kept him out of most of training camp and the preseason games, and there were even faint questions over whether or not he would be ready for the season opener, concerns that were admittedly dismissed.
It seems clear, however, that that toe injury lingered and affected him some during the early stretch of the season. While I would still categorize his season as disappointing, given his previous body of work—his work in pass coverage had only further degraded, if anything—he did normalize his performance after the first several games, even if it didn’t get talked about much, including by myself.
By the end of the season, his stat sheet looked much as you would expect it would, with 119 tackles, five sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble to go along with six pass deflections. Those are very good, solid numbers that anybody should be happy with.
But there is also the reality that Timmons is now on a downward trajectory in his career, at least in all likelihood, with the best ball he has to play behind him. By all means, however, he is certainly still a quality player, and he actually managed several more ‘splash’ plays than he did last year.
This season, the Steelers turned the play calling duties over to Ryan Shazier, whose adaptation to the new responsibilities no doubt had trickle-down effects on the whole defense. But as Shazier continues to emerge as the fixture of the inside linebacker position, it should only continue to take the burden off of Timmons, for the better.