View Full Version : Aging Defense

07-19-2010, 01:14 PM
Aaron Smith 34
Casey Hampton 32
James Farrior 35
Brett Kiesel 31
James Harrison 32
Ike Taylor 30
Ryan Clark 30
Larry Foote 30
Troy Polamalu 29

8 out of 11 potential starters on defense are now age 30 or higher. How many more seasons does this current group have before guys start retiring and the team goes younger across the board on the defensive side?? I'm going to say that 2010 might be the last year we see this core group together that we have enjoyed over the last half decade, especially if there is a lockout in 2011. Kiesel and Harrison are over 30 but don't have the same amount of milage as the others which is a positive sign. Guys like Deshea Townsend and Chris Hoke have proven to be valuable to the team even if they haven't necessarily been studs. Both of those guys are 34 and Townsend could be on the way out with Bryant McFadden being brought back into the mix along with the young corners Joe Burnett and Keenan Lewis up and coming, while Hoke can play as long as he wants to behind Hampton at the NT. I'm going to assume that Troy P. will be back to full force this season, it's just hard to believe that he already has 7 years under his belt. Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau can't coach forever and I doubt that he wants to stick around for any "rebuilding process." My guess is after the next season is completed the future going forward for LeBeau will also depend on the potential lockout situation. Point is this... If your a steelers fan, enjoy 2010 while it lasts, as this defensive roster has been blessed to stay together as a unit and be at the top of their game for so many years now and we as fans have been very fortunate to watch this special group help the team win 2 super bowls.

07-20-2010, 12:14 PM
This should be a major concern for Steelers fans, even this season-I have seen situations where several players on a team 'get old' on the field at the same time (performance falls off significantly). Also with players over 30, there is increased injury risk. If several of these guys miss significant time with injury (especially if Polamalu misses any time), it could be a LONG season for the Steelers in 2010. This is definitely the last year of this group playing together. While not as great as the Steel Curtain, winning 2 Super Bowls puts them in the same zip code.

08-09-2010, 03:55 PM
As a side note, the Steelers are the 2nd oldest team in the league (actually tied for 2nd with Cleveland) at 26.78 years old. The Baltimore Ravens are the 5th oldest team in the league this year. The article I read (which was a Ravens article) pointed out that the Ravens Super Bowl team from 10 years ago had 17 players over the age of 30. So being a bit older is not necessarily a hinderance to playoff success in the NFL. As mentioned in the previous posts, health and sustained performance late in the season are concerns. Even the Steelers' owner has stated that he wants to see the younger players developed faster. While a coach may 'rely on' an older veteran who knows the ropes already, the Steelers would be advised to take Rooney's advice and get the newer guys on the field sooner rather than later (if they can actually play).

08-09-2010, 04:40 PM
you guys brought in some nice LB depth this year, but what are your opinions on your secondary? It wasn't really addressed as much as I thought it should from an outsiders perspective.

08-09-2010, 04:57 PM
They do need to start plugging in new talent via free agency or the draft. They have enough left in the tank to go deep in the playoffs for 2-3 more years but any key injuries to these vets would keep them form putting up number seven. On the lighter side if things don't go well this year and they finishg under 500, they should really try to develope some of their younger players and build younger. They will need to focus on finding a future DT to fill the shoes of Hampton. I love all of these guys but I would try to deal 1 or 2 of them and get as many picks as possibe like NE dis this season a bunch of 2nd rounders in this system could easily look like a number one in a couple of years.

08-10-2010, 09:28 AM
you guys brought in some nice LB depth this year, but what are your opinions on your secondary? It wasn't really addressed as much as I thought it should from an outsiders perspective.

Bringing back Bryant McFadden from the Cardinals will hopefully be the biggest addition, he really played well two years ago. Joe Burnett and Keenan Lewis were drafted last season to provide more depth at corner. Both of those guys had chances to break up passes or create some turnovers in 09' but both on at least one occasion unfortunately dropped a sure Int. Hopefully one of those guys can step up into the nickel or dime this year. Safety Will Allen was added from the Chiefs this season. So far, the team is happy with adding him because he can backup both safety positions and also play kickoff and punt coverage teams which need improvement. Assuming McFadden is going to win his starting job back, William Gay will likely move into his previous role of nickel corner. The steelers secondary didn't give up a ton of big plays in 2009, but it seemed like when they did give up a big play it during the most crucial points of the game. Hoping a healthy Troy Polamalu will help correct that but time will tell.

08-10-2010, 07:38 PM
The Pittsburgh cornerbacks did not have an INT until the last game of the season in 2009(!) While Ike Taylor was OK on the right side, William Gay did not do well on the left side. The Steelers were concerned enough about their secondary situation to re-acquire McFadden in a trade with the Cardinals. McFadden will compete with Lewis and Burnett to start on the left side. Overall, the Steelers were 16th in the league defending the pass (215 ypg), 13th in points allowed (20.2 ppg), 25th in interceptions (only 12 all year), and 20th in turnover differential (-3). The Steelers' run defense was 3rd in the league (89 ypg), so the secondary's poor performance wasted a steller effort by the front seven in 2009. The secondary performance dropped off a cliff after Troy Polamalu went down with an injury, and had a losing record without him-his health (or lack thereof) will once again be a deciding factor for the Steelers this year. I am not impressed by the Steelers' secondary-all of them will need to step up their performance a couple of notches. No secondary player outside of Polamalu really scares anyone right now.

As OverTheTop alluded to, the special teams were terrible last year-4 kickoffs were returned for TDs last year, and the punting was mediocre. Kick and punt returns for the Steelers were nothing 'special' either. New special teams coach Al Everest has his work cut out for him. Poor special teams play results in what Marty Schottenheimer calls the 'hidden yards'-if the opponents return a kickoff or punt to the 40-50 yard line, their offense is much more likely to score. Likewise, if your teams' return units do a poor job, your offense has to go down a longer field. On the bright side, special teams can only improve-it could not have gotten much worse (though Reed is a decent kicker, when he is not punching out towel dispensers). Several losses last year were directly impacted by poor special teams play.