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Troy Polamalu: Elite Difference Maker

I think people for the most part get a better experience watching games at home than going to the stadium. The camera angles are better, and you get replay. The Steelers might be an exception. I don't think you can really appreciate Troy Polamalu unless you can watch him fly over the entire field for sixty minutes. The way he plays makes the Steelers must watch tv whenever I see them on the air.

Pass rushers often get reference as guys for whom the defense must account on every play. I wrote a piece saying that about Cameron Wake last week. What that means is defenses must make a point to do everything to neutralize such a guy in their blocking schemes. Even when that guy isn't rushing, he is drawing attention and making things easier for other guys.

The thing that is scary about Polamalu is that everybody on an offense has to account for him on every second of every play for every reason. He might rush the passer starting deep or at the line. On a passing play, a quarterback and a receiver need to look out for him in case he jumps a route. On a running play, he flies up from deep in the secondary with incredible speed to make tackles. He shows blitz to mess up blocking and then drops into coverage with that incredible speed. He plays deep zone. He covers guys one on one.

The scary thing is that Polamalu does all of these things exceptionally well. I'm not sure there is anybody like him in the game. James Harrison is the guy who always gets Defensive Player of the Year consideration, but Polamalu to me is the real straw that stirs the drink. Look at how the defense fell off without him last year because it's impossible to replace somebody who does everything he does. I have all the respect in the world for Ed Reed. I don't just think Reed is a great player, but I think he's one of the greatest safeties to ever play. He doesn't do what Polamalu does, though.

People who don't watch the Jets scoff at the notion a cornerback can be a game changing player. Darrelle Revis is one, though. Polamalu is the Revis of safeties. Combine him with an assortment of defensive playmakers and a coordinator every bit as aggressive and creative as Rex Ryan, and you have something frightening.

Needless to say, that is not the guy you want to see with a struggling offense and a quarterback whose confidence is not very high. Polamalu needs to be in the minds of the Jets every second of every play. He makes every kind of play.