That is either the dumbest ‘Dad joke’ for a headline, or the most brilliant one considering that it is 100% absolute truth when it comes to the Steelers Ike Taylor.
In pretty close to one of his worst performances of the season (yeah your’re right we’re only five games in… it could get worse I guess) Ike Taylor is quickly becoming the most criticized player on the Steelers roster. Overall, the defense is porous – the poor play of the defensive line leads to no pressure, leading to bad zone defense, leading to more pressure on the secondary to cover well. So, the Steelers’ 3 loses are not solely on Ike Taylor. But, I’ve gotta tell ya, for a guy who demanded the bigger contract last season and played up to and beyond those expectations, he sure is stinkin’ up the joint so far in 2012.
In the loss to the Titans, Taylor’s cover guy was targeted 13 times. He allowed eight completions for 126 yards and a touchdown. Pretty eye boggling numbers for a guy who prides himself on being a ‘cover corner.’ He was also penalized three times – twice in the first fifteen offensive plays and a third time on a critical third down during the drive that tied the game. After those two pass interference calls, he had to be extra careful not to get caught in the cookie jar again, thus leading to extra poor coverage. He was consistently beat all night. And, it wasn’t due to just speed. Poor positioning, poor attempts of bumping, poor route adjustment plagued SwagginU all night.
Taylor has had seven penalties called on him in five games – that’s how many eleven cornerbacks in the league had over the entire span of the 2011 season. He’s quickly becoming the Kemoeatu of the secondary. With a defense that is struggling to put pressure on the quarterback, are we seeing the true colors of Face Me Ike? Probably not considering that the defense relied heavily on good secondary play with poor pressure almost all of last season. The secondary ranked #1 last season in the league. Surprisingly it’s ranked 6th in yardage in the league. It’s just that it decides to implode at the most inopportune times – like in the 4th quarter with a ten point lead.
The 6th in the league ranking is probably in large part to a surprisingly disciplined player this season – Keenan Lewis. I’ve dogged him before for his poor tackling and pursuit at times, but his cover skills have improved. He’s the best on the team so far this season. He looked solid against the Titans and was a relief to see in comparison to Taylor.
The defensive line play probably won’t get better, and Dick LeBeau is unlikely to make major adjustments to his defensive schemes (much to the chagrin of Steelers Nation). What I hope we don’t see as a result of Taylor’s ‘flaggin ways’ is a lack of physicality while defending receivers. He needs to stay physical but still play within the rules of the game. He’s done it before and needs to get back to that place he was in last season. The defense needs him to play better more than ever.