Are the Pittsburgh Steelers Doomed Without Troy Polamalu?

Nick KostoraContributor IIIOctober 7, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off the field after a time out against the New York Jets during the game on September 16, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Steelers defeated the Jets 27-10.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Troy Polamalu strained his right calf in the second quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 5 contest with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Polamalu has made a habit of getting injured in recent years, and has already missed the Steelers previous two games due to the same calf.

Can Pittsburgh be successful without a healthy 31-year old Polamalu?

He has been the defensive catalyst for this defense for the better part of a decade.

Polamalu has 29 career interceptions and 462 total tackles. He is a sideline to sideline talent that can make every tackle and be in on every defensive play.

Pittsburgh lacks a certain defensive intensity when he is not on the field. Maybe that is partially due to the fact that James Harrison has battled injuries as well, but the fact remains that having Polamalu on the field is a crucial piece of the puzzle.

The AFC North is a deep conference and both the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals have passing attacks that can prey on weaknesses in the secondary.

Ryan Mundy has actually been solid in relief of the ailing Polamalu, but he is still not Polamalu.

He does not have the instinctual play making ability or lateral quickness to cover the ground like the former USC Trojan, or deliver the type of bone-jarring hits of No. 43.

Luckily for Pittsburgh, they have not yet played an elite passing offense this season with Polamalu out of the lineup.

Holding the New York Jets to 10 points in Week 2 is less than impressive when you consider what is going on with the Jets offense.

However, allowing 202 yards passing to the Oakland Raiders in Week 3 was a positive sign.

It has been a mixed bag without Polamalu and that is likely the trend moving forward.

The Steelers have enough talent to compete in the AFC North, but is this a team capable of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy if he can't stay on the field?

If the secondary continues to play so well in his absence then yes, but that is a major question mark moving forward.

Pittsburgh is not quite doomed without Polamalu, but to claim not having him in the lineup is irrelevant would be foolish.