Sep 11, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu (43) on the bench during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers Safety Troy Polamalu doesn’t really speak out about the front office. But, on Thursday, he was critical about how the Steelers got rid of some of his “older” buds.
Mark Kaboly of the Trib blogged that Troy felt the team let some of the older vets go too soon:
"When you bring a guy like (Harrison) back and you don’t dig into your youth it tells you something. It tells you that some of the older guys still would’ve helped us out if they would’ve kept them around."
Anyone who’s been around the locker room or reported on being in the locker can tell you that Polamalu is generally quiet, but when he speaks, speaks profoundly.
On this occasion, I would have to disagree with the man with the wild mane.
When the Steelers bring back guys like Harrison and Keisel, it does not say that the team let the older guys go too soon. Every single one of the players that the Steelers either handed walking papers to or just let walk in free agency that Kaboly lists – Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, James Farrior, James Harrison, Ryan Clark – were at a point in their careers where they were going to be too expensive to keep for the amount of production coming out of their performances on the field. All of them had enough fall off that it made sense for the front office to save the cash and use that money to resign younger players whose contracts were close to expiring, sign other free agents, or begin to utilize younger talent in those positions already on the team.
Where the Steelers went wrong (and what Polamalu either fails to mention or realize) is that the team failed to actually dig into their youth and develop them by having them take real snaps in game time situations.
I seriously doubt the “older guys” would have helped the team anywhere beyond 8-8. Keisel, Harrison, Farrior, Clark, Hampton – guys who were done some time over the last two seasons – would have not pulled this team out of their 8-8’s. Dick LeBeau coaching deficThere is/was far too many other things wrong with the team where a single individual would not have single handedly saved the season.
Their removals were strictly business decisions that were not followed through on the back end by letting the younger guys step in. Perhaps what the Steelers not digging into their youth really means is that they are perpetually stubborn about playing the younger, raw players. This is changing some what with guys like Jarvis Jones, Ryan Shazier, and Cortez Allen are being used earlier than they usually would on defense (traditionally). But, there is no correlation with what old guy left and a younger player stepping in.
I realize that Polamalu is looking out for his buddies, but it just seems like a comment that a little misguided rather than hitting home what the real issue is.