Should Steelers Sit Troy Polamalu In Wild Card Against Ravens?


What Steelers fan can forget that image above?

Or how about this one?

Or from a fan’s perspective?

Tell me that didn’t send goose bumps down your arms and a wicked grin on that face of yours?

#43.  It’s like he was built for games like this weekend.  Like he was built for the Ravens.  He has been a thorn in their side for years, and it is big plays like in the featured image (strip sack on Flacco, 2010, Week 13) and the videos above (2007/08 AFC Championship Game) that has made him legendary.

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Not only within the tales told amongst those of Steeler Nation, but also out there in Baltimore.

But you know what?  The Steelers and Mike Tomlin really ought to sit Troy this Sunday against the Ratbirds.

Did you really ever expect to hear someone say those words?  But it’s true.  The seemingly rejuvenated performance that dazzled our eyes just a year ago seems like but a distant memory.  2014 has been unkind to Polamalu.  Minor injuries, poor positioning, and a loss of magic of finding ways to be at the right place at the right time.

For the last few weeks Polamalu has been sidelined with a knee injury since December 14th when he injured it against the Falcons.  Veteran Will Allen replaced Polamalu and has been serviceable. Allen’s pass coverage is not excellent, but the expectation of anyone being a shutdown cover guy for the Steelers is absurd at this point.  His run defense is solid, and I like that prospect going into this Wild Card game against Justin Forsett.

Head coach Mike Tomlin might feel the same way.  When asked about Troy’s health and if he would play were he to be cleared by team doctors, he said this:

"Like I said regarding all those injury circumstances, we’re going to do what’s right. The decisions are complex, and they’re not going to boil down to just simply medical clearance. We’re too far on the journey for that to be the case. There are complexities to these things, and we’re going to deal with them on a case-by-case basis at the appropriate time. The No. 1 element of discussion is the overall health of the individual whether it’s Troy or Ike or Le’Veon or Ryan Shazier. That’s the significant element of the discussion but not the sole element of the discussion."

Wow.  That’s pretty telling if you ask me.  Rather than stating “yes” and moving on, Tomlin is fully aware of the change in this defense since Polamalu (and let’s not forget to include Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen) has been out of the lineup, this secondary has performed much better.

I greatly respect and admire Troy.  Let’s be clear there when framing this discussion.  Three or four years ago… hell even last year… I would have said that you need to put Troy on the field if he’s healthy.  I don’t think that is the case this year.  Much like when a QB that becomes injured and the backup becomes hot – you might just want to stick with the hot hand.  While Will Allen is not in a position to be called the “hot hand,” Polamalu is somewhat in a position to be called a “liability.”

Sit him and Ike.  Continue to do what works.