View Full Version : Prisco: Troy Polamalu is league's most-overrated player

06-10-2011, 12:59 PM
Overrated-underrated: Polamalu can't cover; Pack's Williams can

By Pete Prisco
CBSSports.com Senior Writer
June 9, 2011


They love the signature hair flying out from his helmet. They love the highlight hits that make the fools on some four-letter network swoon and yell "jacked up."

They love his name. They love his game.

Troy Polamalu is an NFL darling.

He's also the league's most-overrated player.

There, I said it.

He was selected as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 -- an award I couldn't figure out -- and then disappeared in the playoffs, even getting trucked by Ray Rice of the Ravens in the playoffs.

He was a spinning top in the Super Bowl, trying to cover Packers receivers and instead watched them rip off big gains and two touchdowns on his watch.

The Packers exposed the reason I think Polamalu is overrated. He isn't great in coverage and the NFL is now a cover game.

He's a good player. He's just not great.

I've always believed he was a gambler in the back end, and good teams and smart quarterbacks could take advantage of his aggressive style, which the Packers and Aaron Rodgers did. He gets away with it against bad quarterbacks, but good ones can use his aggressive style to their advantage (See Tom Brady).

They say Polamalu had a groin issue in the playoffs, but if you're on the field, you're healthy enough to take the heat. And haven't injuries been an issue for him the past five seasons? He has played 16 games only once in five years.

That has to mean something in the rating game, doesn't it?

He's good. I just don't think he's great. That makes him overrated. I bet even some Steelers fans would concur after the playoffs.

So who's the league's most underrated?

The honor goes to a former undrafted player cut by his first team named Tramon Williams. He was the best cover player for the Super Bowl champs last year, even though most would assume it was Charles Woodson.

Talk to scouts, personnel people and even members of the Packers coaching staff and they'll all say that it's Williams who is now the better cover player. Woodson is still a ball-hawking playmaker, but he isn't the cover corner Williams is at this point in his career.

Yet Williams didn't go to the Pro Bowl.

Williams isn't mentioned on many lists as one of the top 10 corners in the game.

Williams gets slighted more than he gets beat.

That makes him the NFL's most underrated player.

Coverage is key now. That's why Williams is underrated and why Polamalu is overrated.

Now here's an underrated and overrated player for each of the league's 32 teams.

Arizona Cardinals

Overrated: DB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He has the tools to be a star. But he lacks the consistency. He needs to be more focused.

Underrated: S Kerry Rhodes. He came over from the Jets and played better than Adrian Wilson, the more-heralded Cardinals safety, did in 2010. Rhodes was a nice addition.

Atlanta Falcons

Overrated: TE Tony Gonzalez. He was ranked in the top 50 of NFL Network's top 100 players in 2011. What? He can't run anymore. And it shows.

Underrated: CB Brent Grimes. Yeah, he was a Pro Bowl fill-in, but he was better than that. Dunta Robinson got the big contract, but he was nearly as good as Grimes last season.

Baltimore Ravens

Overrated: WR Anquan Boldin. I've been putting him in this spot for a long time. Did you watch the playoffs? He can't run. They say he's a No. 1 receiver. Yeah, right.

Underrated: CB Josh Wilson. When the Ravens traded to get him from Seattle, the idea was he would be a backup. But he was their best cover player in the second half of the season. Now he's a free agent who could get some decent money.

Buffalo Bills

Overrated: WR Lee Evans. He was in this spot last year and gets it again after having only 37 catches last season. The Bills sure haven't received the bang for their buck after giving him a big contract.

Underrated: DT Kyle Williams. He doesn't have a ton of physical tools, but he's a fighter who makes the most of what he does have.

Carolina Panthers

Overrated: TE Jeremy Shockey. Is he better than what they had? Yes. But he isn't close to being as good as his reputation.

Underrated: OLB James Anderson. He doesn't get the attention that Jon Beason gets, nor is he in that class, but he's a good football player.

Chicago Bears

Overrated: WR Devin Hester. I hate to go back to a guy I picked last year, but let's be real. He had 40 catches last season and he isn't a real factor as a kickoff return man anymore. He can still excel as a punt returner, but that doesn't make him a star -- just a return man.

Underrated: S Danieal Manning. He is a former corner who has made a nice move to safety. His range really shows up on tape as he has the speed to get to a lot of footballs.

Cincinnati Bengals

Overrated: LB Keith Rivers. When you watch the Bengals play, you just expect more from a top-10 pick. Rivers is solid. But that's not why you draft a guy in the top 10. He was second on the team in tackles, but he disappears at times.

Underrated: T Andrew Whitworth. At times, he is a force. He is big, strong and can dominate in the run game. He has some issues with speed rushers, but played well in 2010.

Cleveland Browns

Overrated: WR-KR Josh Cribbs. I know he played with a foot injury last season, but his numbers were way down. Yet you would think he was a superstar the way they rave about the guy.

Underrated: NT Ahtyba Rubin. He started 16 games last season and emerged as one of the Browns' better defensive players last season. At 330 pounds and 24 years of age, he has a bright future.

Dallas Cowboys

Overrated: C Andre Gurode. He went to the Pro Bowl last season. How? He was really bad. Just ask Dallas' scouts and coaches.

Underrated: LT Doug Free. He was their best lineman last season after being the team's biggest question mark heading into the year.

Denver Broncos

Overrated: QB Tim Tebow. Can we please slow this slobber-fest down? Watch his rookie tape. He was a run-around quarterback who rarely got to the second read. There's a reason John Elway doubted him when he took over. Tebow is the anti-Elway playing the position.

Underrated: LB D.J. Williams. He's a tackling machine. He knows how to get to the football and can play inside or outside. He has some off-field problems, which have hurt his reputation some.

Detroit Lions

Overrated: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch. They paid a ton of money to sign him and he had four sacks. Oh, boy. He was bothered by injuries some, but the Lions need more than four sacks for the money they paid him.

Underrated: DE Cliff Avril. He has the speed teams love off the edge, and it started to show up in a big way last season, with Avril getting 8 1/2 sacks.

Green Bay Packers

Overrated: S Nick Collins. He is a good tackler, but he has trouble in coverage at times. There's no way he should have been All-Pro last season.

Underrated: Tramon Williams. (see above) Want to bet he goes to the Pro Bowl in 2012? He's a great story in perseverance, going from undrafted player, being cut by Houston, then to nickel corner and then to top starter.

Houston Texans

Overrated: ILB Brian Cushing. After an impressive rookie season, which earned him NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, he missed four weeks in 2010 for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. When he returned, he wasn't the same player he was as a rookie.

Underrated: G Wade Smith. The Texans got him last season as a free agent to compete for a job and he ended up being one of their best players. Smith is a big reason why Arian Foster led the league in rushing.

Indianapolis Colts

Overrated: RT Ryan Diem. He never gets blamed like the left tackle, but he's part of the problem in protection. He has real trouble with speed rushers.

Underrated: S Antoine Bethea. He was the glue of the secondary last season when injuries shelved all the players around him. He is a free agent, whom the Colts will bring back.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Overrated: QB David Garrard. Serviceable? Barely. Manages the game? So what? This guy got $60 million three years ago. Ouch.

Underrated: DT Terrance Knighton. For the first 12 games last season, he played as good as an inside player not named Suh. But he let his weight get too high and it showed up late. Even so, he's got star potential.

Kansas City Chiefs

Overrated: QB Matt Cassel. I know he did some good things last season, but I think the real Cassel showed up in the playoff loss to the Ravens.

Underrated: CB Brandon Carr. I really like Brandon Flowers, the other corner, but this kid came on strong late last season. The 2012 season might be his chance to break out.

Miami Dolphins

Overrated: T Vernon Carey. At times, he has been one of the team's underrated players. But he didn't play well in 2010. He needs to pick it up.

Underrated: NT Paul Soliai. He was expected to be a backup when the season started, but played well enough in camp to earn the starting job and was dominant by the end of the year. The Dolphins franchised him after the season.

Minnesota Vikings

Overrated: DE Jared Allen. He is good, just not as good as advertised. He played poorly early on last season, but played better late. Is age becoming an issue?

Underrated: OLB Chad Greenway. I know they tagged him, which shows his value, but he doesn't get the attention he deserves. He's a tackling machine.

New England Patriots

Overrated: S Brandon Meriweather. He is a problem when it comes to coverage, yet he goes to Pro Bowls. How does that happen? He even came out on some downs.

Underrated: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He's a grinder who moves the chains. He might never be a big-play runner, but he knows how to get the tough yards.

New Orleans Saints

Overrated: RT Jon Stinchcomb. He's a decent player, but he gets Pro Bowl votes every year. That I don't see.

Underrated: S Malcolm Jenkins. He became a full-time starter last season and made Saints fans forget about Darren Sharper. A former corner, he has the range needed to play in this era of wide-open football.

New York Giants

Overrated: S Antrel Rolle. He's a solid player, but Pro Bowl player? Not quite. He got way too much hype last season.

Underrated: WR Hakeem Nicks. This kid is special. He had a huge season in 2010 and few noticed. They will in 2011.

New York Jets

Overrated: LB Bart Scott. His bite isn't as good as his bark anymore. And he certainly isn't worth the money he is being paid.

Underrated: G Brandon Moore. He gets lost on a line with Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson. But he's a good player who really doesn't get the due he deserves.

Oakland Raiders

Overrated: CB Stanford Routt. Yes, he had a nice season in 2010. But is he really worth the money the Raiders paid him in March? He has been hot and cold. He can look like a star one play and get beat on the next. With Nnamdi Asomugha gone, it's up to Routt to play like a No. 1 corner.

Underrated: DE Matt Shaughnessy. He had 7 1/2 sacks last season and few would even know what team he played on. Now in his third season, he could be poised for a double-digit sack season.

Philadelphia Eagles

Asante Samuel is a big-time gambler who makes a lot of plays but also gives up a bunch. (Getty Images) Overrated: CB Asante Samuel. I say it every year here: Good player, not great. Big-time gambler. He makes plays, but he also gives up a bunch.

Underrated: RB LeSean McCoy. With all the attention given to Mike Vick and DeSean Jackson, McCoy didn't get the due he deserved last season. He averaged 5.2 per rush. He's special.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Overrated: Troy Polamalu. (see above) I know the stats that show the Steelers have a better record when he's on the field. But you can twist numbers any way you like. I call it like I see it.

Underrated: LB Lawrence Timmons. He should have been in the Pro Bowl last season. His speed is what makes him special. It's too bad Pittsburgh's outside linebackers get all the attention.

St. Louis Rams

Overrated: G Jacob Bell. They paid him a lot of money and he has been only OK. The guard play was a big reason the Rams didn't run it as well last season.

Underrated: DE James Hall. He led the team in sacks with 10 1/2 sacks and proved to be a valuable part of the defense. He is 34, and they drafted end Robert Quinn, so he might be more of a situational player moving forward.

San Diego Chargers

Overrated: DE Luis Castillo. He has been an OK player, but hasn't played as well the past couple of years as he did early in his career.

Underrated: NT Antonio Garay. He came out of nowhere to be a force in the middle of the Chargers defense. He held up against the run, but also did a nice job rushing the passer.

San Francisco 49ers

Overrated: WR Michael Crabtree. I keep hearing about all about his star power, but where is it? Blame the quarterbacks all you want, but I think Crabtree has been a disappointment as well. He had two 100-yard games last season. He's not a big-play guy.

Underrated: G Mike Iupati. He was a brutish force for the 49ers as a rookie last season. He could be on his way to Hawaii in 2011.

Seattle Seahawks

Overrated: WR Mike Williams. OK, so he was a nice story. But he doesn't run well enough to truly be a No. 1 receiver. You watch.

Underrated: DT Brandon Mebane. Playing in the Northwest, he doesn't get a lot of love. But he's a heck of a player who could become a free agent. He's about to get paid.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Overrated: G Davin Joseph. He has the look and talent to be a top-tier guard, but he didn't play to that level last season. He could become a free agent, and if the price gets too high, he could be gone.

Underrated: QB Josh Freeman. He throws 25 touchdown passes against six interceptions and barely anyone notices. Really?

Tennessee Titans

Overrated: CB Cortland Finnegan. This pains me to put his name here. I've been a huge proponent of Finnegan's as a player. But he didn't play that well last season. He needs to get back to his 2008 form.

Underrated: DT Jason Jones. Albert who? Jones did a great job stepping in for Albert Haynesworth. He is undersized at 280 pounds, but he is quick and he can hold up against the run.

Washington Redskins

Overrated: CB DeAngelo Hall. He talks a good game, and flashes at times, but he gives up a lot of yardage. He isn't close to being as good as he thinks he is, even if he went to the Pro Bowl last year.

Underrated: RB Ryan Torain. I've followed his career closely since he played at ASU, my alma mater. The kid always had a knack for putting his foot in the ground, making a cut, and piling up yards. He's perfect for the Washington scheme.

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/1521 ... lliams-can (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/15215764/overratedunderrated-polamalu-cant-cover-but-packers-williams-can)

06-10-2011, 01:39 PM
Pete Prisco is the world's most overrated football prognosticator and analyst.

06-10-2011, 01:49 PM
The only point I will concede is the injury issue.

But when he is healthy he is an X-factor. He makes plays on every part of the field.

People say the darndest things. :roll:

06-10-2011, 01:52 PM
He just wrote that to be controversial. I'd gladly take a bunch of his overrated players. And I'd take most of the underrated ones too.

D Rock
06-10-2011, 02:12 PM
Say he is overrated all you want.

But to say he is good, not great?

that's just false. Even if overrated, he is still great.

06-10-2011, 02:44 PM
IF you say that any player on the field is judged the same as a healthy player (no reason to play hurt now)

IF you say that the way that Troy played injured in the SB is what you get with Troy

Then yes he is overrated.

But as someone who has seen him play in more than one game and appreciates the effort of a player who sucks up the pain for the big game - he is a player who does what no other at his position is capable of doing....thus is not nearly overrated.

06-10-2011, 02:53 PM
How did Tony Homo not make his list? He's by far the most overrated player in the NFL... The guy is talked about as one of the greatest qb's in the nfl right now and he's garbage.

He's right about Timmons though, he's definitely underrated. but his assessment of Troy is way off. I can think of a handful of games that we lose if we don't have him. Those games are what got us in the playoffs in the first place.

06-10-2011, 08:29 PM
I guess when there is no news, and you made a career as a writer who used controversy to get noticed, you do extreme things.

It's just flat stupid.

06-10-2011, 09:52 PM
I guess when there is no news, and you made a career as a writer who used controversy to get noticed, you do extreme things.

It's just flat stupid.

Is it just me, or has this offseason yielded about the stupidest-ever collection of articles by NFL writers? Whether it's Prisco, or Bouchette, or Harris, or Cook, or Starkey, or even Wexell...there's just been a lot of disappointingly bad reporting and writing.

I agree with the OP...he might have a point to make if he says Troy is overrated, but he shot his own article down when he said Troy is merely "good" and "not great." I wonder if Prisco ever tried to play SS while suffering from a bad groin? What a tool.

06-10-2011, 11:04 PM
If he is going to rip Troy, first he should know that it was an achilles injury, not a groin, that slowed him in this years playoffs.

Second, he needs to look at the 2009 season and compare the Steelers with and without Troy. Then he wouldn't be calling him overrated.

06-11-2011, 09:23 PM
Pete Prisco Calls Troy Polamalu NFL’s Most Overrated Player

Posted on June 10, 2011 by adam

Normally I wouldn’t care about columns like this, but because there’s absolutely nothing else NFL-related going on right now (hell, we’re analyzing arena football around here) it caught my attention. Pete Prisco, NFL writer for CBS, penned a column this week talking about overrated and underrated players across the league and determined that Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is the most overrated player in the NFL.

In his words: Good, but not great.

Hey, the lockout is tough on everybody, and even national football writers need to figure out ways to get people to read something. What better way to bring in hoards of angry readers than to call the most popular player on one of the most popular teams in the league overrated, and use a two-or-three game sample size to back up your argument, completely ignoring the rest of the season or full body of work?

His argument is built around Polamalu’s showing in the postseason, particularly the Super Bowl, and Prisco’s belief that the player tied for the second most interceptions in the league is a risk-taker (which is absolutely true) and poor in coverage (which I’m not buying at all).

When addressing the possibility that an injury had negative effect on his play in those games he wrote: “They say Polamalu had a groin issue in the playoffs, but if you’re on the field, you’re healthy enough to take the heat. And haven’t injuries been an issue for him the past five seasons? He has played 16 games only once in five years. That has to mean something in the rating game, doesn’t it?”

Does being injury prone mean you’re overrated? These are two very different things as far I’m concerned. The performance of the Steelers defense, and the team in general, when Polamalu is on the field (or even on the field at less than 100 percent) is night and day compared to when he’s not. And isn’t that the measure of a player’s greatness? How good the team’s performance is when he is on the field compared to when he is off the field?

There’s no denying Polamalu misses his share of games, but go back to the random fact I pointed out on a Podcast during the season: Polamalu has started at least 14 games four times in his career, with the Steelers producing the following results…

went 15-1 and lost in AFC Championship game (2004)
Won a Super Bowl (2005)
Won a Super Bowl (2008)
Lost a Super Bowl (2010)

Polamalu wasn’t the player we’re used to seeing in the playoffs and he does miss games. This is also nothing new. There’s going to come a time, probably sooner rather than later, that his career will decline, and decline severely. He is, after all, going to be 30 this season and plays the game with a reckless abandon, but throughout the season when the Steelers needed somebody on defense to make a big play, Polamalu was typically the guy making it.

http://www.steelerslounge.com/2011/06/p ... #more-5702 (http://www.steelerslounge.com/2011/06/pete-prisco-calls-troy-polamalu-nfls-overrated-player/#more-5702)

06-11-2011, 09:59 PM
Polamalu has started at least 14 games four times in his career, with the Steelers producing the following results…

went 15-1 and lost in AFC Championship game (2004)
Won a Super Bowl (2005)
Won a Super Bowl (2008)
Lost a Super Bowl (2010)

Cool stat. I never made that connection until this guy mentioned it.

06-11-2011, 11:04 PM
PP is overrated as a well-informed, objective reporter.

PP is underrated as an attention whore.

06-11-2011, 11:07 PM
IMO Tony Homo is the most overrated player in the NFL. then comes Carson Palmer. Ray Lewis deserves to be on that list too. He was great once, but comon he's no where near as great as they make him out to be.

06-11-2011, 11:52 PM
He just wrote that to be controversial. I'd gladly take a bunch of his overrated players. And I'd take most of the underrated ones too.

You are right. It's as much to be sensationalist as anything else.

But in a way, he is right. Polamalu has been effectively nullified in games vs. Tom Brady* (and the Patriots*). I can't think of anything he's done as "Troy", in any Patriot* game.

What this bozo does not take into account is just how his presence allows coverage/pass-rush schemes to be altered, with the knowledge that you have a big eraser back there capable of covering immense amounts of ground. It's why we don't see him as much up at the line... he makes a two-deep coverage like a three-deep, with his range. This allows us to be more aggressive in pass coverage, and makes average secondary players look better than they are, and so on.

06-12-2011, 09:50 AM
I guess when there is no news, and you made a career as a writer who used controversy to get noticed, you do extreme things.

It's just flat stupid.

Is it just me, or has this offseason yielded about the stupidest-ever collection of articles by NFL writers? Whether it's Prisco, or Bouchette, or Harris, or Cook, or Starkey, or even Wexell...there's just been a lot of disappointingly bad reporting and writing.

I agree with the OP...he might have a point to make if he says Troy is overrated, but he shot his own article down when he said Troy is merely "good" and "not great." I wonder if Prisco ever tried to play SS while suffering from a bad groin? What a tool.

Troy isn't over rated, he was injured and we witnessed some of his magic in the Baltimore game and the Atlanta game. Does Troy have an impact in every game? No. But he is the catalyst for at least 2 wins a year and that is huge.

06-12-2011, 12:28 PM
birtikidis said "He's right about Timmons though, he's definitely underrated. but his assessment of Troy is way off. I can think of a handful of games that we lose if we don't have him. Those games are what got us in the playoffs in the first place."

No doubt!

06-12-2011, 11:51 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers: Polamalu "Overrated" Has Experts Losing Credibility

By Matt Shervington (Correspondent) on June 11, 2011


At This Point In His Career Troy Polamalu May Be "Underrated" Due To Unfounded Criticisms Of His Coverage Abilities

The NFL Draft is a spectacle unlike any other. No other league’s draft is so closely followed by the fans in hopes that a draft pick or two can immediately change the fortunes of their team. Perhaps this is why with most first-day picks comes a cascade of cheers or boos with every name that is announced.

Most fans either feel incredibly happy with a pick or they feel a sense of doom and gloom. Often there is no middle ground in how the fans feel.

In 2003 when the Steelers traded up 11 spots and picked Troy Polamalu with their first-round pick, I was certainly feeling a sense of doom and gloom.

Not being a fan of NCAA football at the time, I had absolutely no idea who Polamalu was.

Additionally I wanted a halfback to supplant the horrid trio of Jerome Bettis, Amos Zereoue and Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala. Troy certainly was not going to do that.

As a Steelers fan I can gladly say that whenever I have experienced doom and gloom with a first round pick I usually get the benefit of eating crow several years later. No player has made me eat as much crow as Troy Polamalu.

Without question Troy Polamalu was worth his first round pick and then some. However, recently I have heard so-called “analysts” and “experts” rant about Polamalu.

These individuals have claimed that Polamalu is not worthy of a number of things ranging from his reigning “Defensive Player of The Year” award to the label of “best safety in the NFL.”

My question to these individuals is “are you watching the games?”

The latest in the line of critics was none other than CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco.

I need not even highlight that Prisco failed to do his research as to the particular ailment that faced Polamalu in the Super Bowl. However, for those that do not know Polamalu had an ankle/Achilles injury in the Super Bowl, although Prisco claims Steelers insiders told him it was a “groin.”

In his latest rendition of his annual list of overrated and underrated players he named Polamalu as the league’s most overrated player. In doing so he stated that Polamalu’s play during the post-season left much to be desired and highlighted that Polamalu cannot play effective coverage.

While not even the biggest Steelers homer will try and advocate that Polamalu had an effective post-season, there is one huge problem in examining Polamalu’s post-season. He was playing on the aforementioned injured ankle/achilles. The injury was so bad that the team’s doctors suggested that Polamalu shut it down for the remainder of the season in Week 14.

Prisco counters that injury has to be taken into account and that if Polamalu felt he was healthy enough to remain on the field then he should be held accountable. I cannot disagree with that at all. It is a very well-conceived argument. My issue, however, is that Prisco and an emerging amount of casual fans are using Polamalu’s play during that span to classify Polamalu’s entire season or career.

As I would not take Troy Polamalu’s game against the Bengals in Week 14 and use it as testament to his season or career, I would expect a straight-thinking individual to do the same in the opposite direction.

The common example taken from Polamalu’s lackadaisical post-season is that the Packers “picked on him” in the Super Bowl to the tune of two touchdowns. As a result, people believe that Polamalu cannot play coverage. However, there are several fallacies with this argument…

The first fallacy with the argument that the Packers “picked on” Polamalu is that it is completely exaggerated. The Packers certainly neutralized Polamalu in the Super Bowl. But to say that he was targeted often is an erroneous claim. Exaggeration has gone hand-in-hand with Super Bowl XLV though. The reality is that people will tell you Clay Matthews III had a tremendous game due to his forced fumble despite being the primary reason that the Steelers offense was even in the game.

To elaborate on how exaggeration played a pivotal role in critiquing Polamalu’s Super Bowl look no further than the actual amount of times he was targeted during the game. Polamalu was directly targeted twice in the game to the tune of two receptions for 12 yards and a touchdown. I won’t advocate that it was a great game, especially when considering the time that he allowed the touchdown. But that is a far cry from being picked on.

So why do people believe Polamalu was “picked on”?

It is quite simply actually. There exists the perception that Polamalu allowed two receptions that he indeed did not.

The first reception people believe that Polamalu allowed was a Greg Jennings touchdown in the second quarter. However the touchdown was the result of excellent scheming by the Packers to exploit mismatches in speed from the Steelers linebackers, not Polamalu.

On that specific play the Packers came out in a four wideout set to which the Steelers responded with a 4-2-5 nickel package that had Polamalu lining up in the free safety role on the weakside of the formation. The Packers shifted their strongside slot receiver—one Greg Jennings—to the weakside of the formation. In doing so Jennings was now being played by James Farrior instead of Lawrence Timmons. Anyone can tell you the athletic difference between Farrior (36) and Timmons (25) based on age alone.

As the play carried out Jennings was now free to run a post route up the seam near the hash marks covered by the much slower Farrior than against the more athletic Timmons who at least had a chance to run with him. Anyone can tell you that a linebacker against a top six wide receiver with no cushion is a mismatch. Although Farrior was beaten Polamalu still made an admirable play by breaking on the ball as it was released in time to try and jar the ball loose from Jennings’ hands. However, the throw from Rodgers was so precise through the seam of the trailing linebacker and the closing safety that even Timmons—who came across from the strongside of the formation—could not get a hand on the ball despite a tremendous attempt.


Somehow despite Farrior failing to widen Jennings route to disrupt the timing and Polamalu making the optimal play in that situation people seem to blame Polamalu on that play.

The other play that it is perceived that Polamalu blundered was a reception by Jordy Nelson on 3rd and 10 in the fourth quarter.

The play in question involved the Packers again lining up in a four wideout formation with trips lined up on the left but with nobody sent into motion. The Steelers countered with what the media labeled as a “Psycho Package” all season with only one player having his hand in the dirt. The Steelers had two rush linebackers playing defensive end and Brett Keisel in a joker position between them. On the left side of the formation they lined up two defensive backs and a linebacker to cover the non-bunched trips. On the other side of the formation the Steelers had 4 defensive backs including Polamalu who was playing the free safety role 15 yards deep next to Ryan Clark.

The two cornerbacks on that side of the formation were sent on an overload blitz in hopes to get to Aaron Rodgers, but could not. In blitzing the Steelers declared a Cover-3 zone. In this instance Polamalu took center field, Ryan Clark covered from the right hashes to the sideline and Ike Taylor covered from the left hashes to the sideline. Again, this was an obvious mismatch which resulted in Nelson one-on-one against Clark.

Another Polamalu detractor—Future Hall of Famer Warren Sapp—would allude to this 38-yard reception by Jordy Nelson in an attempt to downplay Polamalu’s effectiveness.

While in an argument as to who the best safety currently in the NFL is in regards to the remainder of the NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players of 2011” list Sapp rehashed Prisco’s argument about Polamalu in coverage. Sapp stated that Polamalu was “bad at coverage” due to his being 15 yards down field. Essentially what Sapp was asking of Polamalu in this instance was to abandon his assignment in order to make a potential play.

I don’t doubt that Warren Sapp has forgotten more about football than I will ever know, but with all due respect, he is wrong in this case. Polamalu was responsible for the middle third of the field in that Cover 3 look, and he did just that. However, because Ryan Clark failed to make a play in a situation in which he was at a disadvantage from to start Troy Polamalu received blame.

Further attacking Polamalu’s abilities Sapp claimed that Polamalu is not half the player that Ed Reed is.

I do not mind a person believing that Ed Reed is the better safety of the two. For me personally this argument is the second best in the NFL after only Manning-Brady. However, Sapp’s reasoning as to why Polamalu was inferior to Ed Reed was what intrigued me.

Sapp claimed that Ed Reed was league’s better in coverage than Polamalu and that the latter gets lost. He used three arguments to make his case; that Reed has more interceptions, that Polamalu is “lost” further from 15 yards to the line of scrimmage and that player’s rave about Reed but not Polamalu.

It is without question that Ed Reed destroys Polamalu in the interception statistic. Reed is—without question—the best zone coverage safety of all time. Reed’s 54 career interceptions literally double that of Troy Polamalu’s 27. However, there is a clear issue that even the casual fan can tell you. There is a four year discrepancy where Ed Reed play free safety and Troy Polamalu was predominately playing strong safety.

Even the most casual of fans should know that your free safety traditionally plays deep zone coverage in most coverage shells other than the illusive “Cover 0.” Conversely your strong safety is expected to play against the run and man coverage in most coverage shells other than Cover-2 and Cover-4.

Ed Reed was moved to free safety in 2005 after an injury concerned the Ravens because he was too valuable to thump it out as a strong safety anymore. Troy Polamalu continued to play strong safety until 2008.

As a matter of fact Polamalu is still a strong safety but with Mike Tomlin gradually gaining more control in Dick LeBeau’s defense he has had Troy Polamalu play more Cover-2 roles at the free safety position. Polamalu has taken 52 percent of his snaps in the free safety position since 2008. It is no coincidence that Polamalu’s interceptions blossomed in that same time period with 17 over the past 35 games in comparison to 10 in his first 72 games where the Steelers often ran Cover-3 shells.

So the “interception” argument used by Sapp is an ignorant one ignoring the difference between the safety positions. Additionally it ignores that Reed has had four more years playing a free safety role which aids his interception totals.

The second argument that Polamalu is “lost” further than 15 yards from the line of scrimmage is also an ignorant claim.

As I stated earlier Ed Reed is correctly regarded as the best zone coverage safety in the history of the game. While Polamalu doesn’t touch that level his man coverage has been better than Reed’s in most years with 2004 being the exception. In fact the metrics from reputable sources such as Football Outsiders and K.C. Joyner support this.

For comparison’s sake we will look at the last three years as both have predominately played free safety type roles.

In 2008 per Football Outsiders Troy Polamalu was targeted 48 times with a 68 percent success rate allowing 193 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games. Conversely Ed Reed was targeted 24 times with a 65 percent success rate allowing 137 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games.

In 2009 per Football Outsiders Troy Polamalu was targeted 16 times with a 69 percent success rate allowing 77 yards and two touchdowns in 5.5 games. Conversely Ed Reed was targeted 18 times with a 63 percent success rate allowing 111 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games.

In 2010 per Football Outsiders Troy Polamalu was targeted 38 times with a 45 percent success rate allowing 220 yards and zero touchdowns in 14 games. Conversely Ed Reed was targeted 23 times with a 72 percent success rate allowing 129 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games.

For those fearing to do the math that adds up to Troy Polamalu being targeted 100 times for 490 yards and four touchdowns with a 61 percent success rate over 35 games. Conversely Ed Reed has been targeted 65 times for 377 yards and eight touchdowns with a 64 percent success rate over 38 games.

I will advocate that statistics are not the end-all be-all of football but I will say what I have seen between the two – watching every game possible using GameRewind—corroborates these findings. So if Troy Polamalu is “often lost” and “easily taken out of the game” like Sapp claims then what does that make Reed who Sapp advocated for strongly.

Finally, Warren Sapp argued that players ranted and raved about Reed but not Polamalu. Even more so Sapp did this despite a current player being in the studio with him telling him he voted for Polamalu. Sapp stated that players like Peyton Manning rant and rave about Reed but not Polamalu. However, a simple Google search shows me that players rant and rave just as much about Polamalu.

With that said this article isn’t about who is better between Polamalu and Reed. Nor is it about whether or not Polamalu is the best safety in the NFL. Those are opinion-based and open to interpretation. Rather this article is to point out these false beliefs that the so-called “analysts” and “experts” have continually perpetrated to the public.

Debunking the asinine belief that Polamalu cannot cover despite comparable metrics to Ed Reed. To rid the world of the myth that Polamalu had a horrid Super Bowl. And most importantly to show that the media critics out there are clearly speaking out of ignorance rather than actually watching the guy play.

I’ll be the first to admit when Polamalu blunders, now why can’t the haters admit his strengths? I’m talking to you Pete Prisco, Warren Sapp, Jamie Dukes and Marshall Faulk…

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/7314 ... ths-spread (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/731493-polamalu-overrated-experts-slowly-losing-credibility-as-myths-spread)

06-13-2011, 09:07 AM
Good article. Jamie Pukes and Marshall Squaulk are Steeler-haters. Not sure about SappSucker or Crisco.

06-13-2011, 09:53 AM
Good article. Jamie Pukes and Marshall Squaulk are Steeler-haters. Not sure about SappSucker or Crisco.

They all dislike the Steelers because as players they got their butts kicked and were never part of organizations as successful and as talking heads the Steelers don't make their jobs easy by pandering to them.

06-13-2011, 10:22 AM
Trying to nitpick against a player/coach that most people consider great is a favorite tactic of those who want to make themselves feel smart. This is just another typical BS article from a self-proclaimed "expert." Notice how he doesn't even back up his statement with any sort of facts. Calling him overrated is one thing, but to call him "good" but not "great" just confirms that this writer doesn't have a clue.

Here's a great article - "The Defense of Troy" (http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/Articles/11_3534_The_Defense_of_Troy.html) - about Troy's impact on the team and his value as a player. Great ammo in case another turd tries calling him overrated.

http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/Ar ... _Troy.html (http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/Articles/11_3534_The_Defense_of_Troy.html)

06-13-2011, 11:34 AM
Maybe if Troy just sat back in zone coverage and picked off tipped balls like Reed then he would be a better player. :lol: :stirpot

06-13-2011, 01:17 PM
NFL's best: Troy Polamalu and the top 10 safeties of 2011

By Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY

The position is still called safety, a throwback to bygone football times when those who played it primarily were safety nets, rear guards and last lines of defense. But in today's NFL, the demands of the job go way beyond that. Anyone who can't handle multitasking need not apply.


Troy Polamalu tied a career high with seven INTs last season en route to his sixth Pro Bowl invitation.

Offenses are inclined to attack with up to five wide receivers, confusing with constant shifts and multiple formations. Safeties have moved to the forefront as defenses fight back.

At times, they still roam remote regions of the field like baseball center fielders. But they also must be football transformers, frequently asked to match up with quick slot receivers and cover them like cornerbacks or attack the line and stuff the run like linebackers or rush the quarterback on blitzes.

Star safeties such as Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens have met the challenge, consistently making big plays all over the field and forcing offenses to identify their whereabouts at all times. So it's no surprise they are ranked No. 1 (Polamalu) and No. 2 (Reed) on USA TODAY's list of the best in the business. There are other standouts and other up-and-comers at the position. But with the skill set required to stand out on the back end, they aren't in abundance.

"It is a very, very important position that seems hard to fill," says Gil Brandt, who covers the league for NFL.com after nearly three decades as the vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys. "Speed is important, recognition is very, very important, and you need tackling ability.

"A lot of times you're in the game when people sneak in five real fast wide receivers. ... All of a sudden you're covering a guy like Greg Jennings (the Pro Bowler for the Green Bay Packers). It might only happen twice or three times in a game that (offenses) get the mismatch. But everybody looks for it now."

Likewise, Polamalu and Reed are players who must be accounted for on every snap by offenses.

Three of the last seven recipients of the NFL defensive player of the year award have been safeties, including Polamalu last season and Reed in 2004, highlighting the impact of a job that isn't often valued highly in the draft or the free agent market.

In the past, outstanding cornerbacks have made the move to safety after growing older ... and a tad slower. Hall of Famer Rod Woodson followed that path, making seven Pro Bowls as a corner and four at safety.

Because of the increased demands on safeties, some teams are making the conversion with younger players. Antrel Rolle, No. 6 in USA TODAY's safety rankings, was taken by the Arizona Cardinals with the eighth pick of the 2005 draft as a cornerback. After three pedestrian years there, he shifted to the back line in 2008 and has since made Pro Bowls with Arizona (2009) and the New York Giants (2010), who also granted him a rare windfall (five years, $37 million) for his duties.

Playmakers — strong and free

Teams still use the depth-chart designations of strong safety and free safety.

Traditionally, the strong safety is responsible for defending the side of the offense where the tight end aligns and frequently has to cover him or a running back leaking out as a release valve for the quarterback. But he often is also charged with helping defend the run as the eighth man in the box. The free safety typically has had more freedom to roam and assist the cornerbacks on deep coverage.
But those lines have gotten blurred.

"This is a game of one-upmanship," Brandt says.

"People used to play with one tight end and two wide receivers. The strong safety would always go to the side of the tight end. Now, teams are using two and three tight ends in the game at one time. (The) New England (Patriots do) that a lot ... to disguise what is the strong side and what is the weak side."

So no matter whether a player is listed as a strong or free safety, there will be times when his ability to shift roles is tested.

"Most people will tell you they should be able to play both (positions)," Brandt says.
In Pittsburgh, Polamalu is designated as the strong safety. Reed is Baltimore's free safety. But when it comes to major contributions, they are similar.

"They're defensive players who are capable of taking over a football game, and I think that puts them in a unique category," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says.

"One guy is a free safety; another guy is a strong safety. So they're really different animals from that standpoint. The things that they're asked to do — their job requirements — are different, but they are both defensive players who are capable of taking over a football game, and there's not many of those guys around."

Pittsburgh traded up in the 2003 draft to pick Polamalu in the first round (16th pick overall). In his eight NFL seasons, he has made the Pro Bowl six times.

One of his most impactful plays last season came in Week 13 when he sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, forcing a fumble that sent the Steelers on the winning touchdown drive in the waning minutes of a key divisional victory that ultimately gave the AFC North title to Pittsburgh.

Polamalu is a hard-tackling run defender. But on some plays, he also will start dropping deep into coverage even before the ball is snapped.

Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh's free safety, says he and Polamalu sometimes switch roles. "We come out of the huddle, and we figure out what we want to do," Clark says. "Does he want to be back? Am I going to be back? ... We kind of both play all over."

Polamalu tied for second in the NFL last season with seven interceptions. He has 27 in his career.

"He's probably the most instinctive player I've ever had," veteran defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau says. "He has the amazing capability of studying film and being able to instantly apply that in the game situation. A lot of guys can get down to tendencies, formation, motion, but when it comes to pulling the trigger, they do OK. Troy is exceptional. That's why he makes so many big plays."

The kinds of plays he makes give the impression that Polamalu has the latitude to roam and improvise. But he disagrees with that.

"I don't have any more freedom than anybody else has in the defense. I have a curl flat (pass coverage), I have gaps to blitz, I've got to read keys like any other player on this defense," Polamalu says.

But he does it with such flamboyance, including leaping over blockers, that it gives the impression he's freelancing.

That also translates into popular appeal.

He does shampoo commercials for Head & Shoulders. According to NFLShop.com, Polamalu had the top-selling jersey of all players from April 1, 2010, to March 31.

"I've got to buy my own jersey to get them out to my own family. I think that was probably the reason why," Polamalu kids.

He was limited to five games in 2009 because of knee injuries, and the Steelers suffered without him, missing the playoffs a year after winning the Super Bowl. Polamalu sat out the last two regular-season games in 2010 with an Achilles tendon injury but returned for the postseason. But his attacking style exerts a physical price. He didn't look like his typically disruptive self down the stretch, particularly vs. Jennings and the Packers, who exploited ailing Polamalu in Super Bowl XLV

But Polamalu is never one to make excuses.

"I think that's all part of the game ... dealing with injuries, the fear of getting injured," says Polamalu, who never shies away from meeting bigger ballcarriers in the hole or steamrolling tight ends in the seam.

"You're like, 'Man, I know this is going to hurt, but I've got to do this because this is what I have to do for the love of my family, to support my family, because I don't want to let my brothers down,' " he says. "There's all these factors that go into that sacrifice that you make as a football player."

Baltimore drafted Reed in the first round in 2002 (24th overall). In his nine NFL seasons, he has made the Pro Bowl seven times. He has 54 career interceptions, including a league-high eight last season despite sitting out the first six games while recovering from hip surgery. He holds the NFL record for longest interception return: 107 yards vs. the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008, breaking his own record of 106.

In his Ravens career, he has scored 12 touchdowns: six on interceptions, three on blocked punts, two on fumble returns and one on a punt return.

Brandt recalls an interception Reed made against the Miami Dolphins a few seasons ago.

"The guy apparently does so much tape work. He was completely out of position, but, as soon as they got into the formation, he recognized what it was going to be," Brandt says.
"He made an interception on a play that looked like it was going to be wide open."

In a 2008 game against the Washington Redskins, Reed had touchdowns on an interception return and a fumble return.

"The guy is Superman. Nothing gets past him," Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason said after that game.

NFL receiving star Terrell Owens saluted Reed in a recent interview with the NFL Network.

"This guy, once he's done playing football, will go down in the Hall of Fame. This guy has that uncanny ability to be around the football," Owens said.

"If he's not involved somewhat in a play, it's somewhat surprising. He's a guy you really have to pay attention to."

Reed will be 33 in September, but Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said during a Ravens fan forum in March that he was optimistic Reed would continue to be a key contributor even though he has pondered retirement in recent years.

"Ed's still got plenty of good football left," Harbaugh said. "I've talked to Ed a number of times this offseason. He feels he can play four or five more years."

Hard to find

A few season ago, strong safety Bob Sanders of the Indianapolis Colts was in the discussion when it came to the top safeties in the game, earning defensive player of the year honors in 2007.

But often-injured Sanders — he's played in 48 of a possible 112 regular-season games in his seven-year career — was released in February after a torn biceps limited him to one game with the Colts in 2010. The San Diego Chargers signed Sanders before the lockout, gambling he would revert to his 2007 form.

In the meantime, others have moved up in the ranks.

No. 3 on USA TODAY's list is free safety Nick Collins of the Packers. A veteran of six seasons, he has made the Pro Bowl in the last three. In the first quarter of the Super Bowl, he returned an interception off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger 37 yards for a touchdown.

At No. 4 is Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs. A rookie in 2010, he had four interceptions and two sacks, showing the same tide-turning ability he'd displayed at the Tennessee Titans and kicking off his NFL career with a Pro Bowl trip.

Also in the 2010 draft, the Seattle Seahawks made Earl Thomas the 14th pick in the first round (nine slots after Berry). He helped the Seahawks into the playoffs by starting all 16 regular-season games at free safety and making five interceptions.

"A lot of people thought Berry could be a great corner. A lot of people thought Thomas could be a great corner," Brandt says.

But Brandt says finding high-quality free safeties isn't as easy as drafting them in the first round.

"It (free safety) is a position that there's not a lot of coming out of college," Brandt says.

"At one time in college, people used to take their best guy and put him at free safety. I don't know what's happened to them."

No safeties were drafted in Round 1 this year. But in the third round, the Chicago Bears picked California's Chris Conte.

At 6-2, 197 pounds, Conte was a reserve cornerback his first three college seasons. But after being switched to safety last season, he was named first-team, all-Pacific-10 Conference.

"We spent a lot of time on him and feel real good about his position," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo says.

"We see him as a free safety, but he's got the size to come down and play low (as a strong safety).

"Because he did play at corner — they did play him outside in man-to-man coverage, they used him inside on the slot — so he's got a lot of versatility, and that's really what you look for in the safety position."

Adds Angelo: "Free safeties are like dinosaurs. You can't find them."

Strong or free safeties, some teams have unearthed them. Those who haven't are looking.

In a sense, maybe the name safety still is appropriate, because when an offense is aligned five wide, no defense is safe without them.

The top 10: How the votes landed

1. Troy Polamalu (77), Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Ed Reed (74), Baltimore Ravens
3. Nick Collins (58), Green Bay Packers
4. Eric Berry (43), Kansas City Chiefs
5. Adrian Wilson (42), Arizona Cardinals
6. Antrel Rolle (34), New York Giants
T7. Michael Griffin (22), Tennessee Titans
T7. Brandon Meriweather (22), New England Patriots
9. Malcolm Jenkins (14), New Orleans Saints
10. Quintin Mikell (12), Philadelphia Eagles

Others receiving votes: Earl Thomas, Seahawks (9); Roman Harper, Saints (7); Jim Leonhard, Jets (5); Nate Allen, Eagles (4); Donte Whitner, Bills (4); Ryan Clark, Steelers (3); Thomas DeCoud, Falcons (3); Michael Huff, Raiders (2); LaRon Landry, Redskins (2); Bob Sanders, Chargers (2); Antoine Bethea, Colts (1).

About the voting: The panel was composed of eight USA TODAY NFL staffers. First-place votes are worth 10 points, second-place votes nine points, etc.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football ... ties_N.htm (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/2011-06-12-top-10-safeties_N.htm)

06-13-2011, 11:31 PM
As long as he's still helping the Steelers advance to Super Bowls, I'm sure Troy P. won't be too worried about where some of the "experts" rank him.

I know I won't. :wink: