First of all, forgive the Non-Lions related post. However, with all the bad news, an off topic post may not be so bad.
Recently I entered in a discussion with Mavyrk about the quality of Troy Polamalu’s play. I maintained the assertion that Polamalu, although exciting to watch and a talented player, is missing a certain quality that would make him one of the best safeties in the NFL.
I had no data, or basically any other piece of information to back my claim. I’ve never bought into all the kudos and superlatives that surround a conversation about him. I have just gone off the games I’ve watched and the notion that he over pursues and overruns plays. He gets burned. Then again, who doesn’t get burned at one point or another? I’ll concede to that. Admittedly, I will agree that I shouldn’t make such claims with little to no supporting data. So, I promised that I would hold further comments until I had a chance to give his play a fair shake and re-examine his play during this Monday Night game versus the Bengals, at which point I would post my findings.
Although the success of a player isn’t generally determined by one game, sorry Scott Norwood, I feel that this will be a fair test of his skills as a safety for several reasons. The Bengals, though they have a poor record, have a passing attack, that when operating well, is to be respected. They also have a strong, decent running back in Benson. Finally, they are a division rival, who swept them last year, which naturally turns up the intensity. Let’s see how he fares in tonight’s game after the jump.
Stats (not official, these are tallies that I took while watching):
2 tackles on RBs while blitzing
4 tackles on receivers
5 announcer mentions all positive or neutral
No other stats to list
Came in pretty late on one tackle and flung himself on the pile landing on top of the ball carrier and James Harrison. A Defensive Lineman also landed on Harrison, and it’s no surprise Harrison was a little shaken up on the play and had to go to the sideline. I do not like these kind of late pile-ups as the play was obviously over. I always disliked Roy Williams (Safety) for this, as he seemed to hurt his teammates more often than make the tackle.
On a goal line run by the Bengals, Troy was completely demolished by a blocker and taken entirely out of the play that scored the touchdown run.
Late in the 4th quarter, Bengals down 27-21, Brian Leonard takes a short pass and easily avoids a diving Polamalu. He was coming off a block and off balance, but I feel the tackle could have been made, especially with a potentially game winning drive on the line. It reminded me of Madden when I’d always hit square button and miss with a dive. I do not consider this a blown play, as Leonard did not get the first down. However, in a game this tight, those extra yards are deadly.
No Blown Plays
Has great timing
From the limited vantage that comes with watching a safety, I didn’t see any missed assignments
It is a huge compliment as a DB to be largely avoided. Whether it was on purpose, or just the nature of the play calling, Polamalu was for the most part out of play making range.
Upon Further Review:
Troy did a great job at not making mistakes or drawing penalties. This is especially important in a close game, on the road with a division rival. Mistake free football wins games. That said, Polamalu was essentially a non-factor in this game. This game was not a great game to judge him as he was largely kept out of it. However, I believe that to be a truly game changing, all pro, league leader at your position you must find a way to make plays. Find a way to help your team win.
I will freely admit that this performance is not on par with even what I’ve seen of him as a casual observer. He seemed to lack that energy we’ve all grown accustomed to. Even the lack of mentions by doting announcers seemed to signify that his energy levels just weren’t there.
My conclusion is that I will admit that I was wrong in saying he is missing a certain quality a great safety needs. I will also retract that he typically over pursues, as I only saw one play where he very slightly missed tackling Leonard. I still am not ready to concede to Mavyrk, and seemingly the rest of the football world, that he is one of the best safeties in the league. I will, however, look forward to seeing him play in the future without the negative bias I had. Maybe I will eventually resign and declare him one of the best… but not this week.