Wednesday, February 09, 2011

My Polamalu theory

While driving to my final radio show last night for the 2010 season I had a thought that hit me on why Troy Polamalu was playing so much deep centerfield throughout the playoffs.

I don't think it had as much to do with his injury as it did with the one to Bryant McFadden.

McFadden was suffered a hip pointer in the Carolina game while making an interception and then tore a muscle in his rib cage the following game against Cleveland.

If you remember in that Cleveland game, Polamalu was up at the line of scrimmage to make a diving interception on the Browns' first play from scrimmage.

We didn't see him at the line of scrimmage too much after that.

I haven't had time to check into this yet, but it's my feeling the Steelers were so concerned with their corners outside of Ike Taylor that they felt they had to keep Polamalu deep to protect from being beaten over the top.

We saw Ryan Clark down in the box at times, but he doesn't have anywhere near Polamalu's speed. I believe they felt with McFadden hobbled, that exposed them to the deep ball with McFadden, William Gay and Anthony Madison, particularly with Clark as the only deep safety.

It drives home the fact that this team needs to upgrade its speed in the secondary.

28 comments:

marc said...

no doubt about that.

considering they've drafted 8 defensive backs without much success since they picked up #43 and taylor, i wouldn't count on a significant improvement.

i don't know anything about the guy, but is it a blessing in disguise that horton will be going to the cardinals?

your thoughts on that dale?

Anonymous said...

cool story bro

Mike said...

Dale,

Love the blog. I check it everyday. Question on Troy, although he is a great player and changes our defense. I saw alot of him throwing his body around and not wrapping up. Is there a reason for this? I am suprised the coaches dont address this. It just seems that I see alot of poor technique that is affecting too many plays

Matt said...

What is the deal with Keenan Lewis?

Preseason he was supposed to be the #2 until he punched that sign in the locker room. What happened to that guy?

IS he not better than madison?

Anonymous said...

if Gay is starting next year I will quit being a Steelers fan

datruth4life said...

My mock draft:

1. NT Phil Taylor, Baylor
2. CB Ras I-Dowling, UVa.
3. LT/RT James Carpenter, Alabama
4. G/RT Clint Boling, Georgia
5. CB Curtis Marsh, Utah
6. DE Lawrence Marsh, FLa. , UCLA
7. K Kai Forbath, UCLA

Anonymous said...

I like the corner from Nebraska, Prince Amukamara. He has Ike's size, skill set but with hands. I would love to see the Steelers package some picks and trade up in the first to get a difference maker in the secondary.

Just like we did with Troy in '03.

Dale, what are the odds we see the Steelers move up in the early rounds of this upcoming draft? My memory fails to think of the last time the Tomlin/Colbert team moved up to get a guy they really liked...it even burned us with Darrelle Revis a few years back. (Although I can't complain. We did get Timmons)

Vaflyer said...

I actually was thinking the same kind of thing Dale, except I blamed it on Clark's lack of foot speed. IMO, Troy never looked comfy back there having to play perfectly into the system. Corner and safeties need looked at HARD this summer.

Anonymous said...

I agreed with your theory, the problem the coaches had, was they needed to hide two weakness Clark speed and Mac Faden injury, and they had no other choice but to sacrified Troy wild card play.

I believe this teams needs an upgrade of FS speed more than anything.

At leats thats what Green Bay thought was our biggest weakness, beacuse they kept attacking Clark all game long.

Anonymous said...

"I like the corner from Nebraska, Prince Amukamara. He has Ike's size, skill set but with hands. I would love to see the Steelers package some picks and trade up in the first to get a difference maker in the secondary."

They aren't trading up from 31 into the top 10 to get Amukamara!

Anonymous said...

It was still the offense that let them down in the end...the defense did its part to get a W.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate it took losing the freaking Super Bowl for the Steelers to realize what we all knew all along about their DB depth.

Also, how badly were Lewis and Butler misevaluated and/or improperly developed that neither could see the field ahead of Madison, Gay, or a hobbled B-Mac?

Anonymous said...

"It was still the offense that let them down in the end...the defense did its part to get a W."

It was a complete team loss. The O failed at the end, but they needed a TD in under two minutes only because the D couldn't get a stop on the previous drive.

Dale Lolley said...

When you take corners in the later rounds, they are guys with holes in their game.

If he's a big corner, he probably lacks speed. If he has speed, he probably lacks size, ball skills, smarts, etc.

I do think that Clark's lack of foot speed was a factor as well. That's why we saw him pulled off the field in certain packages in favor of Will Allen.

That's why taking a defensive back, not necessarily a corner, but a free safety type could help as well.

As for Horton, he's been making due with lower-end talent for quite a while. Even when they took McFadden, he was at the end of the second round. And he's been OK when healthy, but he does get banged up.

As far as Lewis and Butler, Butler was a rookie and Madison knew the defensive scheme better. Then, when they did dress him with the plan of playing him, he got hurt and Madison made a play or two.

Lewis was awful in the game against the Broncos - before punching the sign. He also rarely showed up well on special teams. That said, he still has upside. Ike Taylor didn't start until his third season.

Dale Lolley said...

Oh, and the offense score 25 points against the second-stingiest defense in the NFL. Now, it also gave up 7 on the int. return, but both sides of the ball had average games when they needed something special.

The only winning unit was special teams - outside of a missed 52-yard field goal attempt which is no gimmee.

John said...

Kind of reminds you of the Jets game in the regular season. One that they let slip away from them.

That being said, Dale, I think the offense could be the best unit its ever been under Big Ben next year. The talent and speed at WR, the talent and depth at RB and the strong leadership from Ward and Miller. If the Ol gets even a slight upgrade the team could be forcing teams to have shootouts next year...which would help the defense a ton.

Anonymous said...

Special teams featured idiotic penalties by Mundy and Fox, so they're not blameless either.

Vaflyer said...

"It was still the offense that let them down in the end...the defense did its part to get a W."

Our D let up drives of:

80 yards - TD
53 yards - TD
55 yards - TD
70 yards - FG (they needed 75)

Add in the 2 really bad kickoff return penalties and Ben's pick 6 and it seems to me that we lost in almost every area of the game.

Robbie said...

Dale, in your opinion, what do you think was the main reason the Steelers didn't play better?

1. It was just "one of those games"?
2. The Packers forced them into playing poorly?
3. They were overconfident?
4. All the "dynasty" talk weighed on them?
5. The coaches had them poorly prepared?
6. They were up partying Saturday night?
7. Other?...

Between the enormous chip on their shoulder and all the legacies at stake, I'm still absolutely stunned they came out playing anything less than their "A+" game.

Dale Lolley said...

They got outplayed in one game. If those two teams play 10 times on a neutral field, the Steelers win 5 the Packers win 5.

I thought the Steelers' return game and coverage units, and the running game was about the only two areas where they clearly outplayed the Packers in this game.

Yes, the Steelers took a couple of bad special teams penalties, but so did the Packers. That balances out.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Lewis punched that window in Denver after being undressed by the Donkeys on the field. Hopefully he can follow the Ike Taylor career path, although Taylor was seeing the field and making plays as a defensive back prior to becoming a starter. Butler was a 5th round rookie, folks throwing him out or expecting the moon from him are being unrealistic.

This Polamalu theory is interesting, and makes sense. Unlike moving Pouncey to guard. :)

adamg said...

Let's not forget that if BMac is healthy next year, that will solve a big part of the problem.
It can't be easy to play CB with a torn muscle in your rib cage. Maybe this is a case where keeping Aaron Smith on the 53 man roster ultimately cost the team a chance to sign another DB.

Dale Lolley said...

For those of you discounting Pouncey to guard, consider this, Bruce Matthews was hired as Tennessee's o-line coach Wednesday.

His career totals for starts at different positions look like this: played all five positions on the 116 at guard, 87 at center and 39 at tackle.

He's considered one of the best offensive linemen of all-time.

A stud lineman is a stud lineman at any position. The idea is to get your best five on the field together.

Steve-O said...

I like the idea of Pouncey at Guard because it gives the Steelers lots of flexibility in the draft. He's swift afoot and fires off the ball. That would be one hell of a pulling Guard. I read an interview with one of the offensive linemen ( I forget which one) and he said Legursky does a better job of calling out the offensive blocking assignments than Pouncey and Pouncey is no slouch.

Anonymous said...

makes sense Dale. And if the best 5 means Legusrky I´m all for it

But he better have a REALLY good offseason for that to happen. Would be a beauty to see Pouncey, Legursky, Pouncey from left to right

not gonna happen but I can dream

Here's hoping the Hotel joins us for another year!!

Anonymous said...

I get a chub when I think of Starks, Kemo, Pounce DeLeon, Colon, Flo

Starks, Pounce, Legs, Colon, Flo sounds better though.

I hope they all stay & stay healthy.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Kemo should be a fine backup. Just like foster

either draft an OG or and OT in the 1st or 2nd round. That guy should be the promising future starter, or if it's someone like Pouncey, like the other Pouncey, could even start immediately

Anonymous said...

Kemo sucks... should not start