What a Year for the Pittsburgh Steelers Secondary, playing statistically as the League’s Best unit. With some subtraction and addition in this past off-season, what are the dividing lines for continuing that success? Led by veterans Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark consistency is to be expected by a close-knitted, finely-tuned group.
PICK A POSITION: SECONDARY
In a Year filled with disappointment all over the place, Pittsburgh’s Secondary under Coach Carnell Lake had nothing of it. This group played one of their best seasons in a long time, even with some key components missing for long (and short) stretches of game play. In 2013, every position in the Steelers Secondary has a known commodity in terms of intended Starters, but where does Pittsburgh stand in this position heading into today’s NFL DRAFT?
No Seconds in the Secondary
It’s hard to find fault with Pittsburgh’s Secondary play last year, but one area that could really see improvement that would pay huge dividends towards Playoff positioning is takeaways. If we can keep this starting unit on the field through 16 games, that statistic should certainly improve.
- (S) Troy Polamalu: being master of the obvious here, we gotta get TP on the field, healthy as the human torpedo he is. No amount of creative writing here does justice to the difference Polamalu makes when he’s consistently playing downs. We are definitely going to need high-quality backup play here to give TP a blow every now and again, and as insurance against injury. It hurt to see Will Allen leave after performing that role admirably last year, starting for an injured Polamalu even.
- (S) Ryan Clark: Clark is the League’s most underrated Safety in my opinion; he hits like he’s got bricks in his pockets and is a smart playmaker and effective on-field leader. Coupled with a healthy Polamalu, I feel bad for opposing receivers and quarterbacks. Ryan has played well his entire stint in Steel Town, and that will continue, if not elevate, in 2013. #25 is a Performer, and high-level at that.
- (CB) Ike Taylor: “Swagger” was having one of his career best years until another untimely injury last season. I think Ike has 2 more really good years left Starting at Corner; his work ethic and “you ain’t ever making a play on me” mentality are exactly what makes this Steelers Secondary so difficult in most situations. Ike will also have a great year in 2013, because Ike Taylor always has a great year.
- (CB) Cortez Allen: I’m still not happy about the Keenan Lewis situation, but I am happy about Cortez moving up to that spot. What an opportunity for Allen, and what a responsibility to go with it. As our Front Office felt strongly enough to let Keenan Lewis walk without an offer, Cortez must now play up to replacing the League’s best percentage pass defender in Keenan. In limited duty last year, we saw why management thinks the way they do; along with stellar Corner play in touch circumstances, Cortez showed an extra that his colleagues simply couldn’t come up with themselves, the much-needed takeaway. Allen must make the Front Office look like the smart guys they are in maintaining the secondary’s status quo.
- (NB) William Gay: there was considerable reaction to this free agency signing, but to me this is a really good thing. Gay plays well in our Nickel, which is where he will play in 2013. Additionally, he provides useful backup potential at Corner that carries big-game experience and understanding of our system.
- Depth Chart: we have existing depth in the Secondary that will certainly be called on to advance their level of play. All of these guys have been positive credentials and upside from the staff at times – Curtis Brown, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Josh Victorian, Ross Ventrone, Justin King, Isiah Green as Corners and Damon Cromartie Smith and Robert Golden as Safeties. Curtis Brown in particular needs to become a factor, but all of these players need to present themselves as capable. Keep an eye on Golden; particularly liked by our Coaching Staff, Robert may be another reason outside of salary cap that Will Allen was able to leave for the Dallas Cowboys.