Die hard Ravens fans will pick Ed Reed hands down, while die hard Steelers fans will choose Troy Polamalu. While both players are Safeties, Ed Reed plays Free Safety and Troy Polamalu plays Strong Safety. The responsibilities of each position are different. A Free Safety plays further away from the line of scrimmage and is used almost exclusively in pass protection. A Strong Safety plays closer to the line of scrimmage and is used more frequently in run defense. Despite the subtle nuances of their respective positions, this is a discussion that seems to draw lots of heated debate.
At a quick glance, the statistics seem to lean in Ed Reed’s favor. He leads Troy in almost every statistical category for their careers.
However, Ed Reed has started 118 games to Troy Polamalu’s 77 starts. That’s a 41 game advantage. When you break their stats down to a per start average, the stats tell a different story. Ed Reed still holds a decided advantage in interceptions and defensive touchdowns; however, Troy Polamalu leads in almost every other measurable defensive category.
Stats on a Per Start Basis
Ed Reed is definitely the better ball hawk, and whenever he gets the football in his hands, he is a threat to take it to the house. He has also returned 23 punts, one of which went for a touchdown. However, he has also fumbled nine times, losing five. Opposing Quarterbacks need to account for Ed on every single play.
Troy Polamalu has never put the ball on the ground, let alone lose a fumble. However, he has never returned a punt, either. Pittsburgh’s Defensive Coordinator, Dick Lebeau, has been known to task Troy Polamalu with lining up almost anywhere on the field on any given play, making Troy a very versatile player on defense. Just like Ed Reed, an opposing signal caller must account for Troy Polamalu on every single play.
Both players are considered among the NFL’s elite. The one negative that can be mentioned about both players is durability. Ed Reed has missed 10 games due to injury during his career. Troy Polamalu has missed 19 during his career. Ed Reed is already battling injuries this season and is expected to miss the first 4 to 6 games of the upcoming season. Troy is coming off a season in which he missed 11 games due to injury. When all is said and done, both players are amazing. So, who do you pick, Ed or Troy?