4-2 Pittsburgh Steelers Better Than Last Year's Squad?

Jack BurtonContributor IIOctober 20, 2009

PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 29: Safety Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches the action during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field on August 29, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Can you imagine last year’s defense with this year’s offense?  Well that very well could be the case with the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers.  With the return of Troy Polamalu the Steelers have a dominating defense once again.

Troy Polamalu seems to be the glue that holds the unit together.  Even in the plays that he isn’t involved in, and there aren’t many, he seems to add an extra intensity and swagger to the defense that doesn’t exist when he’s not there.  The man simply makes plays. 

It took him a game and half and he already has half of the team’s total interceptions (Ryan Clark has the other half).  Quarterbacks fear this man.  Quarterbacks have to know exactly where he is at all times and throw it where he isn’t. 

If people wondered why the defense hadn’t resembled itself for the first few weeks it’s because they weren’t the same unit.  They should call themselves “Troy Polamalu and the Steelers Defense.” Also it wasn’t the whole unit that underperformed but more specifically the secondary.  Teams were picking them apart in the middle of the field and tight ends were putting up huge numbers against the defense. 

Play-calling was also affected by the absence of Troy Polamalu.  Linebackers had to focus more on coverage rather than blitzing.  They weren’t able to be as aggressive as they had to add some more support for Tyrone Carter, Troy’s replacement.  It affected the team directly in so many ways.  Their play-calling is purely designed around Troy Polamalu.

Now, aside from Troy’s absence, there is one other reason why the team isn’t sitting here at 6-0.  The team early on went through, like many teams do, an identity crisis.  If they knew what they know now about the team they would be undefeated. 

In the first few weeks they played football as if they were the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers.  They got a little bit of a lead and they sat on it.  That’s been their game-plan since forever.  It requires a good running offense and a good pass defense. 

Now we know, with the most passing yards in the league, that we are a passing team.  Without Polamalu we can’t rely on our defense to keep teams from scoring either.

Luckily we have figured out early enough what our identity is.  Ben and company are capable of shredding any secondary.  This pass attack has yet to prove just exactly how good they can be.  Even scarier, with the recent play of Rashard Mendenhall, the offense can achieve balance with a strong rushing attack. 

There are just too many weapons on this offense.  Behind a much more improved offensive line is MVP caliber QB Ben Roethlisberger.  But now he’s got easily the best receiving corp. he’s ever had. 

Between Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller, and Mike Wallace it’s “pick your poison” when it comes to defenses.  Mike Tomlin is well aware of what kind of team he’s going to be.  Pittsburgh is about to see the best air attack they have ever seen. 

Put together this offense with a now rejuvenated Troy Polamalu defense and you got possibly one of the best teams ever in the NFL. Their 4-2 record in no way reflects just how dangerous this team is about to be.