Lawrence Timmons somehow gained a reputation as a two down thumper. Don’t mistake his ability to blitz the edge as well as inside gaps for a run defense specialist – Timmons is an elite cover ‘backer. In addition to being a total ironman, he’s a jack of all trades. Missing just two games over a ten-year career, Timmons played 91% of the Steelers snaps in 2016, 95% in 2015 and 99% in 2014.
Timmons is capable of playing any position among the Dolphins line backing corps. Miami’s defense doesn’t particularly discern a difference between weak or strong side linebackers. The middle linebacker, for that matter, moves around the formation a fair amount.
In this image, you notice Kiko Alonso and Jelani Jenkins split down the middle both playing off the line of scrimmage over the guards. When the offense motions, across the formation, the Dolphins will have their linebackers kick out with them changing their responsibility pre-snap.
With Kiko Alonso playing in the middle in 2016 and an ever-growing IDEA that he could rotate to the outside, the Timmons signing comes even more into focus. Both of these players can rotate across the formation and take on different responsibilities.
Timmons is one of the few linebackers left in the league from a time when they were asked to turn and run stride for stride down the seam. In fact, he still does it with regularity. He was beat by Chris Hogan in the AFC title game for a touchdown where he had 25 yards of responsibility against a faster receiver.
This will not be Miami’s plan of usage with the former Seminole. Covering tight ends of the middle of the field in general was a problem for the Dolphins. Timmons has a keen sense of playing underneath route concepts playing an active role in the hook zone. Case in point here below when he intercepted Eli Manning in 2016.
As the Dolphins offense philosophy is taking advantage of mismatches, the defense loves to disguise blitzes and coverages on defense. Timmons can blitz the A gap, he can pull out and chase down the running back, he can line up off the edge and force a wide drop from the offensive tackle opening up the inside for Ndamukong Suh, and he can rush the quarterback.
The Steelers used him as an edge run defender as well using him against Tyrod Taylor to set the edge on designed quarterback keepers. On one occasion, he stayed step for step with Taylor to the sideline and forced him to pitch the ball late to LeSean McCoy.
It’s no mystery as to why Steelers fans are furious with the organization for letting him shake free. The beauty of the short contract is that it allows the Dolphins to pick up his predecessor in the draft and bring that player along slowly while Timmons gives the team two quality years of production.
With Timmons in the fold, the Dolphins bolster a weak linebacker unit. Truth be told, when Alonso and Misi were right (healthy) last year, the group wasn’t all that awful. But when Misi appeared back on the milk carton (Koa MISSING, as I like to call him) Kiko got dinged and Jelani Jenkins paired poor play with a broken hand, the group was extremely thin.
Signing a player that never leaves the field creates less responsibility for Alonso and allows pushes those depth players back into more specific roles.
The Dolphins now just need another coverage specialist that can take Alonso off the field in obvious passing downs. If the Dolphins go all-in at the position, they could do this with Hasaan Reddick or Jarrad Davis in the first round. My favorite option, however, is going with Alex Anzalone or Perry Riley somewhere around the third round.
Stay tuned for Nate Allen, Julius Thomas, Ted Larsen, William Hayes and any additional acquisitions the Dolphins make.