So, who is older than the Steelers?
Well, according to ESPN last month, nobody in the league has an older projected defense in 2013 than the Steelers – 29.3 years old.
And according to my research, no projected 2013 starting secondary in the league has more years in the game and years playing together than the Pittsburgh Steelers – read my story in Sunday’s Tribune-Review.
Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor are 33 and Troy Polamalu is 32, and in a pass-happy, young man’s game, advanced age isn’t something that works very well trying to defend guys with 4.3 speed.
But the Steelers are different (I believe).
Clark played at a Pro Bowl level the past couple years and Taylor has been one of the best corners in the league for a handful of seasons now. Erase a game against Tennessee last year and the debacle in Denver two years ago and Taylor ranks up with the best of the league, and there’s no way you can convince me otherwise.
The youngster of the group – 24-year old Cortez Allen – is a superstar in the making and William Gay is a coach’s dream because he can play so many positions. The combination of experience and youth are unrivaled in the NFL.
That leaves one guy that the entire season is riding on and that’s Troy Polamalu (yeah, I know it’s hyperbole, but deal with it).
It is not completely out of line to say that the Steelers defense will be as good as Polamalu plays. Sure, he’s been hit with injuries lately, but he showed over the last month of the season last year that a healthy Polamalu is still a pretty disruptive football player.
The 37 years of experience and the 357 career starts the Steelers’ secondary has won’t mean a thing unless Polamalu stays healthy, and judging from what I saw over a month of spring practices, there’s a good chance of that happening. The guy is in great shape … for a 32-year old!
If he can stay healthy, then yes, this could be the best secondary in the league like each and every one I asked in the unit suggested.
If not, then it might get ugly.
*So who has more starts as a unit than the Steelers’ secondary? Try the Houston Texans with the like of Ed Reed, Johnathan Joseph, Danieal Manning and Kareem Jackson.
Here is the breakdown of the top five most experienced teams when it comes to starts in the back half of their defense:
Texans 372–Ed Reed (159), Johnathan Joseph (86), Danieal Manning (84), Kareem Jackson (43)
Steelers 357–Ryan Clark (121), Ike Taylor (119), Troy Polamalu (114), Cortez Allen (3)
Broncos 351–Champ Bailey (209), Mike Adams (66), Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie (54), Rahim Moore (22)
Raiders 312–Charles Woodson (203), Tyvon Branch (61), Mike Jenkins (48), D.J. Hayden (0)
Redskins 283–Deangelo Hall (127), Josh Wilson (65), Reed Doughty (46), Brandon Meriweather (45)