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Thread: Steelers Corners Picked On The Most By Opposing Teams

      
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    Default Steelers Corners Picked On The Most By Opposing Teams

    Corners picked on the most in scrutiny of Steelers' defense
    Monday, August 08, 2011
    By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


    Matt Freed/Post-Gazette

    Despite great statistics, the Steelers' secondary is the focus of critics, particulary the cornerbacks including William Gay, shown here running a fumble into the endzone for a touchdown against the Jets in the AFC Championship at Heinz Field.

    No matter how it is dissected, the Steelers defense does just about everything but stop traffic on the Parkway. They stop the run, sack the quarterback and disrupt the pass better than any team in the National Football League, though the latter might come as a surprise to people who want to deride their secondary.

    In a season in which their defensive performance was as complete as any in team history, the Steelers led the league in scoring (232), rushing (62.8 yards per game) and sacks (48); were second in opposing passer rating (73.1); and were second in the AFC with 21 interceptions.

    Nonetheless, after the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers zipped through their defense in Super Bowl XLV, the secondary has absorbed nearly as much criticism as gas prices. And it's the cornerbacks who receive the brunt of the blame, especially Bryant McFadden and nickel back William Gay, each of whom were targeted by Rodgers and repeatedly picked on in a 31-25 loss to the Packers.
    "A lot of people pinpoint that game, but we played against an outstanding offense," McFadden said. "When you look at what they did, they executed on all cylinders throughout the playoffs and we didn't play as well as we did. But we had plays and we were still in position to win the game."

    Then McFadden added, "We take a lot of blows. It's the nature of the business."
    Six months later, it appears the Steelers are prepared to head into the season with the same trio of cornerbacks who lined up in the Super Bowl. They re-signed Ike Taylor, their best corner, to a new contract -- a move considered a top priority after the conclusion of the lockout. And they decided to bring back Gay, who was an unrestricted free agent, for one more season as their nickel back.

    Sure, the Steelers drafted two cornerbacks with back-to-back picks in April -- Curtis Brown of Texas in the third round and Cortez Allen of The Citadel in the fourth -- but neither is even close to being ready to move out McFadden as the starting left cornerback. Brown and Allen have missed the past couple days of training camp with injuries, further delaying any chance they might have of supplanting Gay as the nickel back.

    Safety Ryan Clark said the cornerbacks get a bad rap and are overshadowed in the Steelers defense because it's the only position that hasn't had a player in the Pro Bowl.

    "I think our corners do a good job," Clark said. "I think we need to make more plays out there for people to see. I think it's hard when you have a Troy Polamalu who plays safety and makes all those plays. They look at corners in a different way.

    "It's a weird deal, but the blame has to go somewhere when something goes wrong I guess."

    Indeed, the Steelers trailed only the New England Patriots (25) in the AFC in interceptions, but cornerbacks accounted for just five of their 21 interceptions. And while their opposing passer rating was bested only by the Packers (67.2) in the regular season, the secondary became downright accommodating when they faced an elite quarterback.

    Consider:

    Drew Brees (305 yards), Tom Brady (350) and Rodgers (304) combined to complete nearly 70 percent of their passes (88 of 126) for 959 yards and eight touchdowns in three games against them. The opposing passer rating in those games was 137.6 -- 64 points above their season average of 73.1.

    "That's football," Gay said. "You're the only one out of the front seven, the only one that the fans can really see. They know if you get beat here or beat there, you must not be doing something right. But they don't understand what goes on, as far as seven on seven, so they look at the cornerbacks in the secondary and say it's their fault."

    It's probably not going to stop, either, not until the fans see plays of a more positive nature. Taylor makes them all the time, but he doesn't intercept passes. In fact, cornerbacks have accounted for only 13 interceptions in the past three seasons.

    "I guess sometimes we feel as though we're probably the ones getting picked on by the media or whatever, but it comes with the territory," McFadden said. "We got some incredible beasts in front of us so they should get all the praise. We got to be the guys on the back end who get all the lashes all the time."



    Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com ; Twitter@gerrydulac.

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    Default Re: Steelers Corners Picked On The Most By Opposing Teams

    If Lewis or Butler can step up, that would help out bigtime. You would hope that with the numerous corners that have been drafted, they'd hit on at least one of them.
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    Default Re: Steelers Corners Picked On The Most By Opposing Teams

    No, Ryan, the secondary is looked upon as a weak point because it consistently sits back off the man and allows a receiver to take the ball and gain four to five yards before contact is made without significant threat to man or pass.. I'm hoping that Carnell Lake will be able to change this.
    'I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ***-kickers, ****-kickers and Methodists.'

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    Default Re: Steelers Corners Picked On The Most By Opposing Teams

    Quote Originally Posted by War Machine View Post
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    I'm hoping that Carnell Lake will be able to change this.
    ... And this is where I agree... And hope that Lake is a vast improvement in our "post Horton" era...
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    Quote Originally Posted by War Machine View Post
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    No, Ryan, the secondary is looked upon as a weak point because it consistently sits back off the man and allows a receiver to take the ball and gain four to five yards before contact is made without significant threat to man or pass.. I'm hoping that Carnell Lake will be able to change this.
    Well, I guess we're going to find out if that was bad coaching or these guys just can't cover deep and that's why they were told to give those big cushions to receivers.

    If our pass rush can get to the QB consistently, then it'll certainly help to play tight, so our D doesn't get consistently burned on the short underneath stuff. Hard for a pass rush to get to the QB when the QB can dink and dunk with quick short passes all game.

    On the plays our pass rush can't get there, we'll find out how well our DBs can cover deep if they play up at the line to start. Hopefully, we don't end up seeing a 40 yard pass completed here and there instead of eight 5 yard passes completed. It all depends on the pass rush getting their in those situations.

    I wonder how much the way our DBs play off the line has to do with Tomlin and his Tampa 2 philosophy as well. It's still Lebeau's defense, but some of the coverage schemes seem to be more similar to Tomlin's Tampa 2 schemes of the past. It almost seems counterproductive to have a blitzing pass rush type of defense that also likes to give up the short underneath stuff, which barely gives the LBs a chance to get to the QB. Then again, they still ended up with 48 sacks last year, so what do I know. Just had trouble getting to the elite QBs though, and they got burned because of it in those games.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler View Post
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    ... And this is where I agree... And hope that Lake is a vast improvement in our "post Horton" era...
    I thought you liked Ray Horton? I have pictures of you two drinking together in a local Cincinnati bar. What's up with that?

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    Default Re: Steelers Corners Picked On The Most By Opposing Teams

    Quote Originally Posted by War Machine View Post
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    No, Ryan, the secondary is looked upon as a weak point because it consistently sits back off the man and allows a receiver to take the ball and gain four to five yards before contact is made without significant threat to man or pass.. I'm hoping that Carnell Lake will be able to change this.
    The only way Carnell is going to make a difference here is if we can teach these guys how to actually cover and defense passes. Thats a tall order. Teaching William Gay how to do that would be like teaching Joe Flacco how to win an AFCCG .

    Gay and Bmac don't play press cioverage because they can't be trusted to not get burnt for long TD's. There's people out thwere (noot you War) that beluieve that Dick LeBeau doesn't play press coverage and that's BS.

    Here's a screenshot of a Steelers/Cowboys game in 1994. Rod Woodson and Deion Figures are the DB's in Press Coverage and the Cowboys had good Receivers so it's not like we only played press Coverage against the Browns



    Here's 1995 when Lebeau is full DC and not Secondary coach as he was from 1992-94 you still saw Press Coverage ..



    There's times he will play both CB's 10 yards off depending on the defense he's calling.

    The problem with Gay and BMac is that if you put them in Press Coverage they will get burnt for quick long 6's, we have to play those bums 5-10-15 yards off so that when they do get beat it's kept in front of them.

    More reason tog et rid of those piles of garbage and find better coverage guys. If Carnell lake can make either of those guys strong in coverage then I will refer to him as Saint Carnell
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