The Steelers’ Best Player Becomes Their Biggeset Liabilty: Why The Steelers Lost The Superbowl

Posted: February 9, 2011 in NFL

Whenever you get anything that is big and powerful, there is usually a downside to it, like a turning radius. You’ve got that big SUV because you have a bunch of kids, but it doesn’t have that much of a turning radius. It’s big, you can’t parallel park it. I did one of my internships for a small market analytics/research company a few years ago and the great thing about working for a company like it was that it was small, meaning you could walk upstairs to the suits and get your questions answered on the spot instead of going through the zillion channels you have to a big company. When I was at MLSE, let’s face it, they are a huge comglomerate and you have to go through layers and layers of management to get anything approved. Now, they are big and powerful but they don’t really have a very nimble turning radius. A lot of times – and you see this lot in football, this guy is big and strong and powerful, but he is actually a liability.

One of the things I noticed from fans on Monday – you know, anytime you lose a game, you always want to blame somebody. Green Bay was just a better team than Pittsburgh. I believe I had said that last week, this is not a great Pittsburgh team. There have been great Pittsburgh teams – mostly in the 70’s and 80’s, this was not a great Pittsburgh team, because the NFL is all parity driven.

But when you look back at the Superbowl – and everybody pointed at Big Ben, who was under pretty constant duress due to the injuries to his offensive line. What everybody didn’t pay attention to was really the best players the Steelers have: Troy Polamalu. He actually, more than any other player, cost them the game. Troy is a glorified linebacker who plays safety.

I went back and looked at the stats and I found something that is irrefutable and inarguable. I went back to 3 very similar teams, 2 of which Troy has faced in Superbowls. Since Tory is a big safety, 15 pounds heavier than most, he’s a glorified linebacker. The smart teams in this league, with really good QB’s have figured out a way to make Troy not only neutralized, but make him a liability…his turning radius, that he can’t guard quickly!

I went back and looked at 3 teams in particular: The Packers from this past Sunday, The Patriots – who spread you out and the Arizona Cardinals – with Kurt Warner against the Steelers. Here is what I found. Big, tough, physical Tory has been eaten alive by the Patriots. Brady is 4 and 1, 12 TD’s with 3 picks and a QB rating of 104. Brady is better against the Steelers than virtually every team, outside of Buffalo, in the NFL. I went and looked at Aaron Rogers, he went 24 for 39, 3 TD’s with no picks, 111 QB rating. And it should be noted, he had 7 dropeds. He could’ve easily finished with 420 yards in passing. I went and looked at Arizona’s Kurt Warner, similar to Green Bay, similar to the Patriots, they love to spread you out and have a smart veteran QB. Troy had 2 tackles in that game, Warner threw for almost 400 yards and 3 TD’s.

The 3 teams, with smart QB’s spread out the field, and the best player the Steelers have all of a sudden becomes their biggest liability. Even Troy noted on Monday, he acknowledged that he did not have a good Sunday. He said “Any time we lose and they put up points that way, you can point it – I would say at the secondary, but especially me in particular. You know, there is a drive there that I gave up the big play, when Jordan Nelson went across the middle…that was my fault. And the touchdown after that was my fault as well” And they were! Who does Troy do very well against? 15-2 against power running Cleveland, since he arrived in the NFL and they’ve won 6 of 8 against Baltimore. Power teams, in the box, he’s the Steelers’ best player. Spread them out, he’s their biggest liability.

You see that all the time, the greatest strength over at MLSE is their biggest liability, they are not nimble. They try to be, they are getting better, but they are so big, it’s hard to turn the battleship. So I think it’s interesting, the emails/texts/bbm’s etc. But listen, fans turn on their little box at home, they watch the television set and they see thought that television set and say “Big Ben made a terrible throw” Big Ben didn’t play well, nobody thinks he did. But if you went back and looked at film and talked to coaches and you sit and see 400 replays on ESPN, you’ll quickly notice that Troy killed their chances. Green Bay completely abused him as does Brady and as did Warner.

I’m sure you’ve already heard this but, for the 2nd year in a row the Superbowl had the most viewers of any TV program in the United States. It is now, Sunday’s game, the most viewed television product ever. 111 million people watched that game. Now here is what’s interesting, the US has a little over 300 million people. So you look at that number and you think a third of the country watched. But here is what you forget!  The ratings don’t count kids under 18, I looked it up there are 75 million in the US. They don’t count bars and casinos and restaurants. I went and looked at the total number of those in the US, I’m going to throw a rough estimate that 25 million Americans watched at a bar or restaurant of a cafe or a casino.

Nor do they count everybody in your house; they only count the one television set, which is usually a family of four. Well, no family watches the Superbowl alone (though I watched it alone for the 7th Superbowl running to bring you these SB rants) So I just basically doubled the number of people in the house, so instead of 100 million, make that 200 million. Do you know what I found? There is also 18% of Americans, 45 million, were English is not there primary language. You know if you’re a Mexican immigrant and you come over, you’re probably not going to be a Chicago Bears fan.

So I started adding up all the numbers, 111 million viewers, 75 million kids, 25 million casinos, bars and cafes, 100 million who are not counted (because nobody watched the Superbowl alone, except me). Essentially folks, there was almost 100% saturation because those numbers that I added, 111 + 75 + 25 + 100, come out to 301 million Americans and there are like 305 million.

So here is what I did, I went out and I took the 4 biggest sports – non NFL in North America. So I took MLB, NBA, College Football and College Basketball (NHL matters squat! ) and I took their big ratings or rating averages for their big event. The BCS final got an 18.5, the Duke national championship game got a 16, the Celtics/Lakers final averaged 10.6 and the average World Series rating was an 8.5. The Superbowl got a 50 rating…the others combine got about a 52 ½ rating . It should be noted, that was with Duke in the final four, Celtics/Lakers in the finals….you couldn’t ask for 3 better basketball teams. In your typical NBA season, that rating would be much lower.

So you’re looking at the Superbowl = the four other biggest sports and their biggest event combined! Haha, that is absolutely absurd!!

  1. Mike Crack says:

    Yeah, the Steelers have a tough time against teams that spread them out. I wouldn’t say Polamalu’s problem in coverage is because of his size, I’d say it’s because of his tendency to be aggressive and guess on plays. He’s a boom or bust player because of his aptness to jump and bite on plays, similar to Asante Samuel.

    I think the Steelers as a secondary have problems with teams who want to pass the ball because Dick LeBeau is content with having corners who aren’t very good. The Steelers prefer to build up their front 7 and do with mediocre cornerbacks. LeBeau says he has to have corners who can tackle, often times at the expense of good coverage.

    Rodney Harrison was a big safety 6’1”, 220 lbs, and while he wasn’t great in coverage, he was adequate primarily because the Pats didn’t neglect having good cornerbacks during his time there and played a scheme that was able to contend with Peyton Manning back then (’03 and ’04).

    Yeah, the SB ratings are amazing. One of the last events that is guaranteed great ratings in this day of 1270102820210120 channels and the internet.

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