Perhaps the worst aspect of our loss to the Chargers was the piss poor play of our defensive backs and safeties. Sure Ryan Clark made a few big hits but in general our secondary play was not up to the task. When we played man-to-man coverage, we too often gave their receivers huge cushions at the line of scrimmage. Not a good idea when you're talking about Keenon McCardell and Eric Parker, hardly guys you would classify as physical receivers at the line of scrimmage. Why didn't we bump them off their routes and force Rivers to make even tougher judgments with his reads?
We were even worse in zone coverage I thought. Parker and McCardell make up for their relative lack of athleticism with a sound awareness of where to be on the field. They found soft spots in our zone on third down ALL night. Dare I say we maybe even missed Ricardo Colclough on Sunday. He of course sucks at fielding punts, but he's pretty good in pass coverage, especially when the Steelers are playing zone.
I will say that it seems Polamalu is not putting himself in the same opportunistic positions that he put himself so often last year. He seems to be a step behind what's happening. Maybe this is because opposing offenses are accounting for him and drawing up gameplans that minimize his potential impact on the game. I doubt it's due to injury. His shoulder was the only thing that was bothering him, and that shouldn't affect his anticipation or speed to the ball. Whatever the case, we absolutely need him to make several game changing plays over the course of this season. It takes timely turnovers and a defense that can score to go on sustained winning streaks. We're missing that right now.