Look back at any of my previous articles from the offseason, and you'll likely see something along the lines of "Robert Golden is a special team's stud, but not starting strong safety caliber." We're only two games into the season, and I'm already looking like a fool.
When the Pittsburgh Steelers let Will Allen walk in free agency, I was a little confused. Drop a veteran safety that has the Steelers defensive playbook down pat, for..... Shamarko Thomas and Rob Golden? No, no, those two can't be the heir to the throne. They must have plans to acquire someone via free agency. Well, free agency came, free agency left, and the Steelers maintained that same depth for the strong safety position. They drafted safety Sean Davis in the second round out of the University of Maryland, but before I could even hype that up, the Steelers had Davis receiving slot work as a DB.
I wasn't happy, and while all of Steelers Nation was preoccupied with worrying about the cornerback situation, I was confident that the strong safety position would be the most vulnerable.
In past seasons, when Robert Golden has filled in at safety, he was feasible, but nothing spectacular. He has taken the opportunity at hand this new season, and has grabbed it by the horns, as he looks like everything that he hasn't before-- spectacular.
A questionable, young Pittsburgh Steelers defense has turned into a stout asset with a bend-don't-break attitude. While the first sixty yards seem to fly by, the Steelers consistently turn it up a notch when they get close to the red zone. Pittsburgh's elite offense will defeat a team that is only putting up field goals every single time.
Robert Golden followed up an above average week one, against the Washington Redskins, with a stellar performance Sunday afternoon against the Cincinnati Bengals. Finishing with nine tackles and a fumble recovery, Golden was seemingly involved in every single play. Through two games, the University of Arizona product is tied for second on the team in tackles.
Aside from the recovery of the controversial fumble, one of Golden's biggest plays came in the back of the end zone, late in the third quarter. Andy Dalton found an open C.J. Uzomah, but Robert Golden used his force to knock Uzomah out of bounds before he could get two feet down. Another controversial call, but a superb defensive effort nonetheless. The critical stop forced the Bengals to settle for a field goal.
Pro Football Focus gave Golden a rating of 81.7 for week two, giving him the second highest rated performance on the Steelers defense. If he can maintain this level of play, the unheralded hero could soon be receiving his first pro bowl invitation.
It is also interesting to note that Golden was in for 100% of the defensive snaps in week two, showing that he is the clear starting strong safety moving forward, with back up Shamarko Thomas only receiving 4 defensive snaps.
A dominant offense combined with a surprisingly remarkable defense is lethal, and has allowed the Steelers to look like one of the biggest threats in the National Football League. Golden is a major factor in why this defensive unit has been able to outperform expectations early on this season. The duo of Mike Mitchell and Rob Golden has the potential to become an elite safety combination for years to come.
I've gone from worry, doubt, and disappointment, to sitting in my living room and screaming "Rob G!" in utter joy.
Robert Golden, if you're reading this, I'm sorry.