Originally I hadn’t really planned to discuss this at all, but I have gotten multiple emails and messages asking me what sort of impact the return of Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu will have on Sunday’s game. To be honest, I hadn’t thought a whole lot about it, but I will give the people what they want. Let’s discuss.
Polamalu has participated in 2 games so far this year, both of which he started in, and in those 2 games he was injured and accumulated 7 total tackles. And the Steelers split those games 1-1. In the games he missed the Steelers are 5-4, 2 of those losses minus starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And also during this stretch the Steelers have remained the no. 1 ranked defense in terms of yards allowed and 5th in points allowed. On the surface it’s a difficult argument to make that the inclusion of Polamalu back onto the defense fold.
Also, when you figure in that there is a real possibility that Polamalu could end up re-injured at some point in the game, it’s difficult to think long term when it comes to his impact. I think Polamalu is a very good football player, but I do not expect a huge impact from him on Sunday’s game. I also do not expect defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to suddenly re-tool the defense to fit Polamalu’s skill set. What the Steelers have been doing on defense especially in light of the injuries on both sides of the ball has been remarkable. LeBeau will work Polamalu back into the fold and you can almost be sure he will in on a big play or 2, but I can’t sit here and say that this defense can get better than where it is right now plus Polamalu.
The flipside to this argument I guess is that Polamalu comes in and gives both sides of the football an injection of energy and enthusiasm and just having him on the field will help a hobbling offense to step up and play better. I am not dismissing this at all. I’ve often said that in the past when Polamalu wasn’t on the field the entire team seemed to play a little worse. So perhaps things will be all brand new on Sunday. But the reality is this defense has been in good hands while he’s been gone and when he’s gone again, it will continue to be in good hands. I hope Polamalu has a tremendous game and a tremendous season, but I just can’t get my hopes up.
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