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Offline Greg C.  
#1 Posted : Thursday, February 10, 2011 4:07:30 AM(UTC)
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Here's a good article by Matt Mosley about how the Packers neutralized Troy Polamalu. Zombie, in particular, will love it. They used a steady diet of spread formations to keep Polamalu from playing near the line of scrimmage, where he is most dangerous:

Quote:
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Green Bay Packers spent the past two weeks trying to figure out how to neutralize the 2010 defensive player of the year. They accomplished that task by pretty much turning Steelers safety Troy Polamalu into a non-factor.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers vowed to know where Polamalu was on every play. And his ability to whistle passes through tight windows actually made Polamalu look slow for much of the evening. The man who had seven interceptions this season tried to force the issue and started guessing in a frantic effort to make plays. It may have been one of the worst games of his career, and it couldn't have happened on a bigger stage in a 31-25 loss to the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

Reporters offered the soft-spoken Polamalu a lifeline by bringing up the Achilles tendon injury that's plagued him throughout the season. He headed that off quickly, saying he simply ran into a quarterback who's on fire.

"It was the healthiest I've been," Polamalu said, "the best I've felt probably since the middle of the season."

Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings caught both of his touchdowns against Polamalu. Jennings said that on the first score the Steelers were in a Cover 2 scheme and Polamalu was forced to choose between covering two receivers running similar routes.

"He chose wrong," said Jennings, whose 21-yard touchdown gave the Packers a 21-3 lead in the second quarter.

The Packers didn't show much interest in the running game (11 attempts), in part because they didn't want Polamalu near the line of scrimmage. Because Green Bay constantly spread the field with four wide receivers, Polamalu rarely played close to the line.

"We wanted to keep him out in space," said Jennings. "If you can contain him in some ways and keep him on a guy that he's uncomfortable with, you have a lot better chance."

Polamalu was even more pensive than usual following the game. He took blame for both touchdown passes to Jennings and indicated that he put his cornerbacks in bad situations by trying to get too "creative." Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for a 38-yard pass early in the fourth quarter that set up the Packers to take a 28-17 lead. Polamalu also took the blame for the pass to Nelson and the subsequent 8-yard touchdown pass to Jennings.

He guessed that Jennings was going to run a post because he'd seen him do it so many times on film, but the wide receiver ran a corner route and scored easily.

"That was completely my fault," said Polamalu. "Earlier in the game, they ran Jennings down the middle and I was anticipating that same pass play and I guessed wrong."

Polamalu's given the freedom to freelance in this defense because he's such an instinctive player, but perhaps a more conventional approach would have served him better against Rodgers. The Packers made him uncomfortable throughout the game. Polamalu has told reporters in the past that he constantly fears getting beat despite his brilliant play. But on Sunday night, his fears were realized against a quarterback who can pretty much do anything he wants right now.

This isn't the first time this season the Steelers' secondary has looked vulnerable, but Polamalu often made up for its errors. In this game, he was the one making a lot of the mistakes. The Packers took the Steelers' most unique player and made him a liability.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was asked repeatedly about Polamalu's performance after the game. When someone asked whether he thought Polamalu made an impact in the game, Tomlin replied, "I'll let you be the judge."

It was one of those rare evenings when having one of the most versatile defensive players in the game didn't help the Steelers. Now, they have a lot of time to think about what went wrong. I guess Polamalu can be flattered the Packers were so worried about him.

But that won't bring much solace on this evening.


P.S. Here's the link, if you want to enjoy a picture of Polamalu bending over in despair with his hands on his helmet:

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfceast/post/_/id/25014/page/espntexas
Offline Since69  
#2 Posted : Thursday, February 10, 2011 3:17:56 PM(UTC)
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I was unaware that he didn't even have a tackle until the 4th quarter. That's a helluva job of gameplanning by MM...
Offline dhazer  
#3 Posted : Thursday, February 10, 2011 3:21:08 PM(UTC)
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One thing I am noticing from most players from the Steelers, is that they are all giving props to the Packers. Except for Little Ben he just says it was his mistakes. I liked ho both teams has shown so much respect for each other.
Offline Greg C.  
#4 Posted : Thursday, February 10, 2011 5:19:11 PM(UTC)
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" said: Go to Quoted Post
I was unaware that he didn't even have a tackle until the 4th quarter. That's a helluva job of gameplanning by Mike McCarthy...


Dom Capers, actually. I think McCarthy pretty much lets him do his thing with the defense.
Offline Zero2Cool  
#5 Posted : Thursday, February 10, 2011 5:20:30 PM(UTC)
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" said: Go to Quoted Post
Dom Capers, actually. I think McCarthy pretty much lets him do his thing with the defense.


This is true. Mike has said a few times the defense is in the capable hands of Dom Capers and that's how he likes it. He takes O, Dom take D. :)
Offline Dulak  
#6 Posted : Thursday, February 10, 2011 5:46:00 PM(UTC)
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I remember feeling a bit pissed when GJ was clearly in the endzone for the TD and Polamalu really pushed GJ hard to the ground(in the endzone mind you).

anyways - I thought we did a great job in neutralizing him also. What a awesome job coaching and executing. I couldnt imagine our score if we caught all those darned dropped balls; hey at least rothlen's balls either were to the receiver or way over their head lol.
Offline Greg C.  
#7 Posted : Thursday, February 10, 2011 6:13:20 PM(UTC)
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" said: Go to Quoted Post
I remember feeling a bit pissed when GJ was clearly in the endzone for the TD and Polamalu really pushed GJ hard to the ground(in the endzone mind you).


He hit him to try to knock the ball out, a split second after he made the catch. It was a bang-bang play. It didn't matter that he was in the end zone. If he had knocked the ball out with that hit, it would not have been a catch.
Offline Nonstopdrivel  
#8 Posted : Thursday, February 10, 2011 6:16:49 PM(UTC)
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" said: Go to Quoted Post
I remember feeling a bit pissed when GJ was clearly in the endzone for the TD and Polamalu really pushed GJ hard to the ground(in the endzone mind you).


I didn't like it either, but with this whole "process of the catch" rule, it makes a lot of sense for defensive players to do that. Maybe they'll knock the ball out and the play will be ruled an incompletion or a fumble. After the infamous Calvin Johnson play, anything is possible.
Offline Pack93z  
#9 Posted : Thursday, February 10, 2011 6:28:34 PM(UTC)
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The Packers forced Troy to guess a number of times and took him out of his comfort zone more than any other time I have seen personally.. the Packers did it well.

The second Jennings touchdown.. Rodgers made Troy bite on the slant and took it post.. it was game set match on Troy's first guess on the play.. toast.

Quote:
Post Post subject: Re: Polamalu edges Matthews for AP defensive player of the year

Posted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 06:19 AM


" said: Go to Quoted Post
The only difference I see is, teams can roll protection to Matthews side. They can't roll anything to a Safety.


Sure you can, you can run route trees that force a safety to make a read and move.. then sell him with the QB looking him off and then attack the hole.

Is it more complicated and somewhat dependent upon the safeties decision and the other DB's coverages.. sure.. but you can manipulate a safety and somewhat scheme him out of the play.

IMO.. the difference between Ed Reed and The Hair is Ed is not as disciplined in his coverages and is more instinctive than Troy.. Ed is playing the ball more and Troy is playing within the scheme and his responsibilities more.

Additionally Hair is more versatile overall and Reed really isn't a force around the line of scrimmage, Troy can do things that Reed simply can't because of the physicality difference between them. But Reed is a better overall "true" safety and thief of passes.

That said you can expose Reed's gambling nature and his lax on assignments if he is wrong (Not often).. Troy is more assignment sure.

Both are excellent players, but if I had to take one.. it would be the Hair.
Offline Greg C.  
#10 Posted : Friday, February 11, 2011 12:00:44 AM(UTC)
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Whoah, you were really onto something with that post about how a safety can be schemed against. I'm glad you reposted it, because I had forgotten about it. The Packers made Polamalu look more like Ed Reed on a bad day.

Not to reignite the run vs. pass debate, but I do think this article may inadvertently offer an explanation for why the Packers were so pass-happy: the spread formations forced Polamalu to play coverage. He got so frustrated that he was biting on fakes and kind of got lost out there.
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