When Polamalu was in, the secondary played like they did in 2008 when they were the No. 1-rated defense against the pass.
When Polamalu didn't play, the Steelers reminded many people of the days of Dewayne Washington, Chad Scott, and Lee Flowers (for those of you that don't know what those days were like, you're lucky!).
The Steelers spent the offseason upgrading their secondary with the re-signing of Ryan Clark and bringing in former Steeler, Bryant McFadden.
They also upgraded the position by signing former Tampa Bay Buccaneer FS Will Allen as an insurance policy had they lost Clark, but he's more of a special teamer.
None of those players compare to Troy Polamalu; most people don't. Polamalu is a once in a lifetime player with a skill set most young kids can only dream of reaching.
But the reality is, Polamalu is NOT Superman. He spent a good deal of last season injured, and if (God forbid) he gets injured again this year, the Steelers secondary won't be the same.
There is a solution, though.
On June 3rd, OJ Atogwe became a free agent. The Rams decided that he's not worth the $7 million they'd have to pay him as a restricted free agent, and he's free to sign anywhere he pleases.
The problem is, what kind of contract would Atogwe want to join the Steelers?
There are a lot of teams in need of serious safety help. The Ravens could be looking for the replacement for Ed Reed, and the Dolphins, Bears, Bengals, and many other teams are all in need of a starter. The Steelers could bring him in to compete with the incumbent Ryan Clark for a starting position.
Atogwe is an Ed Reed type of player. He's a ball-hawk who can cover a lot of ground, and he's not afraid to make a tackle. That's what makes him a perfect fit for the Steelers' system.
The Steelers also offer him something that other teams can't: a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl.
In a normal year, I'd say there's no chance the Steelers do this. But over the course of the last few months I've said things like...
"The Steelers won't bring back Larry Foote."
"The Steelers won't bring back Antwan Randle El."
"The Steelers won't trade Santonio Holmes."
"The Steelers won't re-sign Ryan Clark."
And "the Steelers won't re-sign Casey Hampton."
And along those lines, I can honestly say there's a chance the Steelers may take a run at a player that could make their secondary even scarier.