I understand that Pittsburgh’s defense looked good “on paper” during the 2012 season. Yet what the Steelers truly lacked on the defensive side of the ball last fall was a turnover-causing “x-factor.”
Pittsburgh’s inability to force turnovers killed them towards the end of last season, and that issue was one of the biggest reasons why the team failed to qualify for the postseason. Overall, the Steelers’ defense finished 25th in total takeaways with 20, and placed an even more dismal T-29th in interceptions with 10!
Thankfully, Pittsburgh’s entire defense could receive a much-needed boost this fall if Troy Polamalu can return to the starting lineup and remain healthy.
Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently discussed the types of positive impacts that a now-healthy Polamalu can have for the Steelers during the 2013 season.
I for one have been excited to see Polamalu back in action and off of the team’s injury report, and his addition should make an enormous difference for the Steelers on the defensive side of the ball this fall. Pittsburgh’s veteran safety has been hobbled by injuries during the last two years, and Polamalu has missed a total of 22 regular season games since the 2009 regular season began.
As I alluded to above, the addition of a healthy Polamalu in Pittsburgh’s secondary could be huge from a “takeaways standpoint.”
During the 2008 campaign and his Defensive MVP season of 2010, Pittsburgh’s strong safety recorded a combined 16 turnovers! In addition to those takeaways, I should add that Polamalu played in every single one of Pittsburgh’s regular season games during both of those seasons as well.
In 2009, 2011, and 2012 however, Polamalu struggled with various injuries and only managed to tally a combined seven takeaways. Without their “x-factor” in the lineup on a consistent basis, the rest of Pittsburgh’s defense struggled mightily to force turnovers as well. In addition to those pathetic numbers that I referenced earlier, the defense finished with an NFL-low 15 takeaways during the 2011 season, and 26th overall in total turnovers with 22 in 2009.
As most of you could tell by now, when a healthy Troy is in Pittsburgh’s lineup, then the team’s defense is an even more formidable unit. I for one am excited to see exactly how much the versatile and exciting Polamalu still has left in his tank at 32 years of age.
Most of all though, I just want to see Polamalu staying in games, making plays, and tipping the turnover scale in the Steelers’ favor this fall.
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