Obviously we're not going to see much in preseason from the starters, we never do...that is unless Tomlin pulls out something different this year. So I'm wondering how much gas this defense will have this year as it wears on.
Last year, stat wise, we weren't the worse defense in the league by any means, but we all know how much this unit struggled. They blew leads late in the game time and time again, the amount of int's made by DB's could be counted on 1 hand, they couldn't stop the run, pass defense was horrific, the pass rush wasn't getting there consistently, etc.
This unit, guys like Hampton, Smith, Kiesel, Farrior, all of whom are either in the twilight of their careers or headed that way in the very near future are such key components that it's absolutely critical that they stay healthy and on the field. We've literally done very little to improve this defense over the offseason, so basically we're returning the same unit minus the injuries hopefully. Perhaps last year was a fluke because of all the players missing so many games and young players just not being ready to step up, or was it a sign of the times that our beloved Blitzburgh as we know it now needs to be severely revamped. Only time will tell, but given the fact that the only key addition on defense was McFadden (which is HUGE if you ask me), we'll have to find out how much gas the veterans have in the tank. If anybody can get the job done, it's Lebeau, but only he can do so much. The scheme is sound, it's proven to be rock solid for decades but if the players don't execute then it doesn't mean much.
Polamalu is a given, without him in the secondary we are vulnerable in any given scenario on defense. He affects the pass and run defense in such a big way that you can't discount him when you're the opposing offense. If he so much as misses even a few games we will be in trouble.
I would like to think that if we stay healthy on defense this year, they can step up and get the job done just like a couple years ago when we lead the league in nearly every defensive category...but we shall see.