Pittsburgh knows all-world defensive backs.
The city's idol, Troy Polamalu, and hometown hero, Darrelle Revis, will face off in a Week 2 regular season matchup featuring the Steelers and New York Jets. Well, at least they were supposed to.
While each DB would be sure to leave his imprint on the game if he suited up, Revis is out with a concussion and Polamalu is questionable after missing practice Friday with a calf injury.
That begs the question: if neither gets the green light from their bodies, which team will feel the pain of that game-day scratch more? Who's the more valuable defender to his ballclub?
One could debate about which secondary ace is more talented until the cows come home, but the best way to determine an individual player's value is to examine a unit's performance with and without that player. It isn't an exact science by any means-every football statistic has variables that include quality of opponent, weather, etc.-but comparing a defense's success when its star is on and off the field is the best way to tell just how much that player makes everyone around him better.
Now, Revis has only missed three games in his NFL career so his off-the-field sample size is quite small. Still, some-even minute-level of correlation should've revealed itself.
Revis Island went off the map for three contests in 2010-a season in which the Jets surrendered the third-least amount of yards per game in the league. They also boasted the sixth best pass-defense allowing just 200.6 yards per. But without Revis against the Miami Dolphins, Chad Henne went off for 363 passing yards.
In the game, Brandon Marshall exploded for 10 receptions, 166 yards and a touchdown. Comparatively, Marshall recorded a total of 11 catches for 159 yards in two games against Revis this past season. It's safe to say the wide out's numbers were inflated by Revis' absence.
But on to Polamalu who's missed 13 games in the previous three seasons-11 of which were in 2009.
And in 2009, Pittsburgh only allowed 13.8 points per game when Polamalu played. Without him, it surrendered 23.2.
Again, because such a statistical comparison is an inexact science, those 9.4 fewer points per can't be fully credited to Polomalu's presence. But an undeniable correlation still remains.
While Revis is the best cornerback in the NFL, it's difficult to argue that he's more valuable to the Jets than Polamalu is to the Steelers. The difference in Dick Lebeau's defense with and without the superstar safety is downright jaw-dropping.

Posted in Pittsburgh Steelers

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