Current Steelers linebackers vs the past greats
Harrison, Woodley, Farrior, Timmons
Lloyd, Greene, Kirkland, Brown
Lambert, Ham, Russel
That group of the 90's in their prime really had no weaknesses. Dominant on the outside and blitz capable up the middle, they were virtually unstoppable. Age and free agency eventually caught up with them but those 4 were the best of all time in my opinion. That's saying something considering the dynasty years of the 70's Russel, Lambert, and Ham.
The golden age of Steelers linebackers occurred in the 1970s when Andy Russell and Hall of Famers Jack Ham and Jack Lambert roamed in the team's great defenses.
But since switching to the 3-4 defensive scheme in 1982, only one other group of linebackers can rival the current crew as the best and/or most dominant to play together.
James Harrison made his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl, named Monday to replace Baltimore's Terrell Suggs who pulled out with an injury. That ties him with Greg Lloyd, and they are behind Lambert (nine Pro Bowls), Ham (eight) and Russell (seven) in team history at the position.
Harrison, the NFL defensive player of the year in 2008, has teamed with fellow outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley to become the best duo at sacking the quarterback in the league. Woodley was on his way to his second Pro Bowl and candidacy for the defensive player honor with nine sacks through the first eight games. Injuries, though, caused him to miss virtually seven of the final eight games of the regular season.
Woodley and Harrison, who missed five games himself with a broken eye bone and a one-game suspension, each had nine sacks in 2011. Harrison is sixth in Steelers history with 58 sacks, just two from moving into third place. Woodley shot to No. 8 with 48 sacks in just five seasons in the league.
They are among the best and most handsomely paid players on the team. Add in what James Farrior has meant to them over the past decade and the combination of Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons, and that's a hard group to top. The only ones to rival it would have been the Blitzburgh linebackers of Lloyd, Levon Kirkland, Chad Brown and Kevin Greene in the 1990s.
There is no stronger group on the Steelers than the linebackers. But some change could occur there in 2012. Woodley, who signed a new contract in the summer, and Harrison will be back, as will Timmons. He has not yet made the Pro Bowl many of his teammates predicted for him but has become a versatile and valuable performer who never leaves the field. He, too, signed a new contract in the summer.